A separation agreement, when used correctly, can provide clarity and certainty at what can be a very difficult time. However, it is vital that you ensure your family and rights are protected. Here are the simple rules you should follow…
What Is A Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement can be used when you haven’t yet decided whether to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership, or if you can’t yet do so. It is a written agreement that sets out – mainly – your financial matters while you are separated. This might include:
- Who continues to live in the family home (or what will happen when it is sold)
- Who will pay the mortgage and household bills
- Who any children will live with, how access will work and whether any maintenance payments will be made
- What will happen with any debts (such as credit cards and loans) and assets (such as savings, cars etc)
A separation agreement isn’t technically legally binding, but a properly and fairly negotiated agreement will be upheld by the court if challenged.
How To Ensure That A Separation Agreement Protects Your Rights…
Separation agreements exist to help both parties understand their rights and responsibilities during a separation. They are flexible – you both decide what you would like to include – and the agreement can take the heat out of the relationship breakdown, so that if and when you do decide to get divorced, you both know where you stand.
However, there are some important things to consider when writing your separation agreement:
- You and your ex-partner need to be open and honest about your finances to ensure the integrity of the agreement.
- If you want to make changes to the agreement after it has been signed, you will both need to agree to them.
- Unfair terms – such as where one of you is bound by a term which says you can never go to court for child maintenance – won’t be upheld by a court.
In order to make sure that your separation agreement protects your rights, it is a good idea to get legal advice. This isn’t a necessity, but because a separation agreement is potentially legally binding, this will ensure that you fully understand the implications of signing it. Your solicitor will be able to share any reasons why you shouldn’t sign the agreement, and it is particularly important to take advice if your ex-partner is intimidating you or putting you under pressure to sign it.
If you and your partner have agreed what should be included in the separation agreement, each of you should ask your solicitor to check it before signing it (note that you can’t both use the same solicitor). When you do this, the separation agreement is much more likely to be upheld by a court if it reaches that stage.
Finding A Solicitor…
A separation agreement is a hugely useful tool to make sure that you and your ex-partner are following the same terms during a relationship breakdown. At Beeston Shenton, our family law team, serving Cheshire and Staffordshire, will use their experience and knowledge to ensure that your agreement is fair and enforceable. Get in touch here.