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Separation agreements in family law

If you are unmarried and facing relationship breakdown, or married and planning to separate without seeking an immediate divorce, a separation agreement could be right for you.

What is a separation agreement?

Separation agreements are legal documents that can be drawn up to confirm details of a division of property and finances, as well as setting out future arrangements for children.

Unlike a divorce, a legally-recognised separation agreement leaves your marriage intact and the marital obligations of each spouse remain current. However, if as a couple you wish to take some time before formally dissolving your marriage, a separation agreement drawn up according to advice from an expert family lawyer can help you manage your finances during a period of separation.

Under family law, unmarried couples are treated differently from married couples, and sorting out financial claims can often prove complex – if or when it comes to going to court, a formal separation agreement that has laid the groundwork can be extremely useful.

What can be included in a separation agreement?

A separation agreement can include a wide range of detailed information including: living arrangements for the adults and any children involved; contact details for a non-resident parent; financial responsibilities and guidance on who pays for what; how any family money, property or other assets are to be divided or sold.

Before negotiating and drafting a separation agreement, also known as a Deed of Separation, a separating couple will be asked to disclose in full what they own and earn individually; they must make this statement available to each other’s family lawyers or mediators, and supply supporting documentary evidence.

Each party should seek independent legal advice and the terms of any agreement should be approved by both parties and their solicitors before the document is signed.

Is a separation agreement legally binding?

Unlike a court-ordered financial settlement in divorce, a separation agreement is not strictly binding under English and Welsh family law. However, it clearly shows the intention of each of the parties to address the issue of their finances, the division of property, and the future of the children – so if either party subsequently reneges, a signed separation agreement can prove very useful during court proceedings later on.

And successful negotiation to agree separation terms can save a significant amount of costly legal time if you subsequently decide to seek a divorce through the courts.

For more information and to help you decide your next step, call us on 01243 786668, email the family law team at info@georgeide.co.uk or contact the team directly using our details as shown on this page.


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