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Separation Agreements Frequently Asked Questions

If you are in the unfortunate situation where your relationship has broken down and you no longer wish to live with your partner, then you may want to consider a Separation Agreement. A Separation Agreement is a contract between the parties to a relationship which covers how any assets, debts and responsibilities are to be divided following the separation. They can be used by married and unmarried couples. A Separation Agreement should be drawn up by a family law solicitor and signed by both parties.

If you’re married and do not wish to divorce straight away, then it can be a useful way to agree the terms of your separation. For unmarried couples they can be important as you are not protected in the same way on separation as a married couple would be in a divorce and a Separation Agreement may assist to provide evidence of an agreement.

We know that families and family life can be complicated. A Separation Agreement is useful to allow parties to take stock and allow the ‘dust to settle’ Our team of Family Law Specialists have a wealth of experience in providing the best outcome for families. With offices in Sheffield, Chesterfield, Mansfield and Dronfield, our team of specialists are more than happy to help.

For more information, call Banner Jones Family Law Solicitors in confidence on 0330 017 6303

He's got to keep a roof over our heads hasn't he?

Non-residential parents have to pay maintenance for their children; hopefully the amount can be agreed though negotiation and if not then the CSA will decide. Each case is different. If for example the Mum and the children stay in the family home then she may relinquish her claims over any other assets such as pension and savings in return.

How soon can I file for a no fault divorce?

You can get divorced in England or Wales if all of the following are true:

  • you’ve been married for over a year
  • your relationship has permanently broken down
  • your marriage is legally recognised in the UK (including same-sex marriage)
What am I entitled to in a no fault divorce?

The aim when sharing out matrimonial assets is to be fair. Both spouses have to make full disclosure about their assets and debts before any decisions can be made about distribution, trying to hide anything won't work. Factors which are important when sharing out the assets include the current and future needs of each spouse and any dependent children; the length of marriage and the age, earning capacity and contributions of each party.

Will I lose touch with my children?

Your aim should be that both parents still play an active part in the raising of the child/children.  Usually parents sort this out amongst themselves, although if there are problems mediation can be a good way to resolve this.  Going to Court should always be the last resort where children are involved.

Will we have to go to Court during our divorce?

No, getting a divorce should be an administrative excersise only and there are many options open to you that avoid going to Court.

What is a no fault divorce?

No fault divorce removes the need to prove one of the five facts of divorce (adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion of two years, separation of two years with consent to divorce and separation of five years without consent). Instead, only a statement of irretrievable breakdown will be needed.

A couple can file for divorce once they have been married for at least 12 months. There is no need to apportion blame or fault, as was the case under the previous law when parties had not been separated for a period of over 2 years.

Will I need a solicitor for a no fault divorce?

The role of the divorce solicitor will change, but they will still have a role in:

  • Assisting with the preparation of the divorce paperwork and lodging the same with the Court.
  • Advising on how finances should be divided on divorce, including things like how the family home will be dealt with, how pensions and other savings and investments might be split and whether there is a requirement for maintenance payments.
  • Preparing documents, for example, the consent order to create a legally binding financial agreement between the parties.
  • Advising on entitlements and helping to negotiate. If no agreement can be reached, a solicitor will advise as to the merits of issuing court proceedings and will represent you within these proceedings.
  • Implementing orders, whether by consent or decided by the court.
  • Advising and supporting parents who are in dispute to reach arrangements about how they will care for their children.
  • Preparing cases to be presented to the court and conducting the proceedings where disputes cannot be settled.

This is not an exhaustive list but illustrates that the divorce itself may only be a small part of the legal process of relationship breakdown.

How do I file for a no fault divorce?

To file for a no fault divorce you usually have 3 options:

  • Use a solicitor to file the paperwork for you
  • File yourself using the government portal
  • Use an online divorce service

Remember that this is just to start the divorce part of the process. The parenting and financial arrangements will normally need to be agreed separately to this part.

How long does the no fault divorce process take?

Divorce for most people will take a minimum of 26-weeks or six months, with additional time for the conditional order application to be considered and pronounced. If the couple need more time to complete their divorce, then the law will allow for this.

In exceptional circumstances (such as terminal illness or imminent birth of a child to one of the parties), it may be possible to have this process expedited.

Is a no fault divorce 'cheaper’?

It makes sense that if your separation is less contentious, then the legal costs will be lower, but there are often financial arrangements to sort out as well as dissolving the legal marriage or civil partnership.

With a no-blame culture in place, it is hoped that it will encourage more constructive discussions leading to better, and therefore less expensive, outcomes. However, there is no guarantee that this will necessarily be the case. A no fault divorce financial settlement is the same as any other divorce settlement, and may include maintenance and the division of assets etc.

Do both parties have to agree to a no fault divorce?

It is possible for one party to contest a no fault divorce in the same way that they could contest a traditional divorce. This occurs when the parties cannot agree on the terms of the divorce, i.e. a fair division of money and assets, maintenance, child custody etc. If this occurs, then the case will be put before a judge, unless the couple agree on ADR (alternative dispute resolution) such as mediation.

What is the no fault divorce process?
  1. We will prepare a form called a "divorce petition" to start proceedings. It confirms to the Court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down, that you have decided that your marriage is sadly at an end, and that you are seeking a divorce.
  2. After the requisite 20 week period following the issuing of your petition, we will then prepare a form to confirm to the Court what, if anything, has changed since the divorce proceedings were started.
  3. From the date of the Conditional Order, there is then a further period of 6 weeks and a day which must pass before we are able to prepare your application for the “Final Order”. The Final Order brings your marriage to an end and leaves you free to re-marry.
Can I contest a no fault divorce?

There is now very little you can do to contest an unwanted divorce, unless there have been procedural errors in the application – which is rare.

Why do we need no fault divorce?

As the old process of divorce required one party to divorce the other and provide reasons for their desire to divorce, it was difficult to focus on moving forward without conflict. Old divorce law (prior to 6 April 2022) dates from the 1970s and did not adequately reflect modern society and introduced an unnecessary element of delay or conflict in the divorce process.

Without the need for blame to be apportioned, it is likely that the process will be less upsetting for many, helping children get through a very difficult time. The change in the law will help avoid increased conflict. It will also help the co-parenting that will need to take place even after the marriage has been dissolved.

What happens about parenting and finance arrangements with a no fault divorce?

These are separate areas of your divorce and are not covered under the no fault divorce law. You will need to reach an agreement on how you are going raise your children whilst living separately and also agree on a fair division of your assets and any ongoing payments.

If you are struggling to agree between yourselves, family mediation is the next step as it is a pre-requisite for going to court for a decision in most cases. But there are also other options outside of court if mediation breaks down or is not suitable for your situation.

Can I file for a no fault divorce online?

You can apply for a no fault divorce online via the Government website. 

The online process may work for straightforward divorces where you can agree the grounds for divorce between yourselves, where both parties are co-operating with the divorce and where there are no issues over costs and/or children. However, having a solicitor providing legal advice ensures that you are supported throughout the process which can help to reduce the emotional burden. A solicitor can also ensure that the forms are completed correctly so that there are no delays and increased costs incurred by errors made on the forms.

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