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What Is a Separation Agreement?

Because life is never always black and white, you may find yourself at a low point in your relationship where things are going badly, but you don’t yet want to apply for divorce.

In such situations, you may find that a deed of separation will provide the legal certainty you need to protect yourself financially, without having to go through the stress and finality of divorce proceedings.

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    What Is a Separation Agreement & Do They Legally Protect Me?

    A separation agreement is a type of legal contract made between a couple when they wish to separate, but are not ready to divorce.

    It sets out what is to happen to things like the mortgage, rent or bills should the marriage break down and result in a divorce.

    Sometimes, a separation agreement is only intended to regulate the terms of a temporary separation, for example, who is to pay the mortgage and other outgoings.

    It is also often referred to as a ‘deed of separation agreement’.

    Entering into an agreement of this nature makes the process of divorce much easier if it ever comes to that.

    There will be an agreement to the divorce and your financial agreement involving your marital assets, such as pensions and matrimonial home will already be agreed upon, removing costs and pain at the time.

    What are the benefits of getting a deed of separation drawn up?

    A separation agreement this is drafted by a solicitor can include a wide variety of provisions, for example, maintenance, financial matters, and arrangements for any children after separation.

    The main benefit to obtaining this order is that it gives you legal protection if divorce proceedings were brought upon you.

    It makes the transition of settling your matrimonial finances easier as there is already an agreement in place to deal with the split of pensions, property, and other assets.

    It would also make it more difficult for one spouse to claim for a significant amount more than was already agreed previously in the separation agreement.

    Separation agreements are flexible and save for a handful of limitations. You can also agree to make changes to the agreement.

    What can be covered in a Separation Agreement?

    Below you can find typical examples of what gets covered in a separation agreement;

    • How much each party is to pay in respect of the mortgage, rent or household bills until you are able to move.
    • How your debts will be split between you.
    • How the money from the sale of a home will be split after payment of fees.
    • How to separate joint bank accounts and savings.
    • Division of personal property such as cars, CD collections, and furniture.
    • The payment of any ongoing maintenance for a spouse or children.
    • Who the children will live with and when they will see the other spouse.

    In what kind of situations are Separation Agreements used in?

    Financial matters often cause some of the biggest problems between couples and are a prime cause of marriage breakdown.

    A separation deed may reduce the tension primarily by providing financial certainty without having to involve the court.

    These types of orders are primarily used when parties have agreed to separate but don’t want the finality of divorce.

    Both parties agree that they want to put things in place as a precaution of divorce so that if proceedings are brought upon either party, the acrimony is reduced and finances aren’t squabbled over.

    Separation agreements can be tailored to the needs of each couple and can for example, deal with the following:-

    1. Living apart – The agreement to live apart, free from interference from the other spouse, is a key feature of a Separation Agreement.

    2. Maintenance – One party can agree to pay maintenance to the other and/or for any children.

    However, such an agreement may not prevent the Child Support Agency from becoming involved.

    3. Property/Finances – Arrangements for the division of assets or the discharge of debts are a common feature of Separation Agreements.

    4. Arrangements for your children – For example, where they will live, how often they see each party and so on.

    How do Separation Agreements work from a practical perspective?

    A separation agreement is a type of contract and, therefore, a legally binding document.

    If either of you then fails to respect the provisions of the agreement, the other party may take legal action for breach of contract if the terms of the agreement have not been carried out.

    However, if the deed is not prepared properly then it may not prove to be legally binding.

    It is, therefore, important that both of you receive separate and independent legal advice before signing the agreement, as this may be needed as evidence in any court proceedings to enforce the terms of the agreement.

    Like any contract, the only way to enforce it, is to take the matter to court.

    This does not mean that you will be required to attend a court hearing, the agreements simply needs to pass through court via a judge.

    What happens if we’ve got a separation agreement and then get divorced?

    Should you and your spouse subsequently divorce, provided your separation agreement is drawn up properly and is reasonable, then a court is unlikely to interfere with it and will usually seek to uphold the provisions contained in it.

    Also the terms of your deed can then be transferred, very quickly and easily into what is known as a financial consent order.

    Effectively, your separation agreement is appended to the order and endorsed by the court.

    Can you draft your own separation agreement?

    Unless you have been legally trained it would be very hard for you to have the necessary knowledge and drafting skills to draft an agreement that would be accepted by a court in the event of a dispute.

    Therefore it is always advisable to have a solicitor or someone fully trained to draft your agreement to ensure it passes through court.

    Seeking legal advice before entering into a separation agreement is always advised to ensure you have a fair and legally robust agreement, but it’s not required by law.

    It may sound like needing a solicitor to obtain this agreement will be costly and therefore decide not to do it, but it doesn’t have to be expensive when you choose to use Divorce-Online.

    Our family law solicitor can draft your agreement and advise you on how to sign it for just £399.00 fixed fee.

    There are many more things that can be covered in a separation agreement, these are just typical examples of things that couples usually put into their agreements.

    Are there any drawbacks to having a deed of separation?

    There are some drawbacks to separation agreements, including the fact that they are harder to enforce than a court order.

    In addition, a court can, following an application by either of you in subsequent proceedings, make orders that differ from the provisions of the agreement.

    However, a court will only alter the terms of a separation agreement with good reason, for example, if the agreement is unfair or defective.

    Obtain a Separation Agreement Without Spending Thousands

    There’s no need to spend thousands hiring a solicitor to draft your separation agreement, we can deal with everything for you for just £399 fixed fee. We’ll help save you over £750.

    This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of Divorce-Online and Managing Director of Online Legal Services Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.

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