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Guide to Deed of Separation Agreements – Why and When To Use One

Relationships break down for a whole number of reasons, so it’s important you know your options in the event of separation or divorce.

In this article, we will explore what separation agreements are when to use them and what the benefits of making one are for both married and unmarried couples.

We’ll answer some key facts you need to know before getting started to ensure you have the knowledge you need to make an informed decision about your next steps.

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    What is a Separation Agreement & Who Are They Suitable For?

    A separation agreement is a type of legal contract that is made by a couple when they want to stop living together. It aims to set out the arrangements you want to make for things such as children, finances, and property for example.

    Separation agreements can be drawn up and entered into by both married and unmarried couples

    If you are married then this type of agreement can be used in multiple ways and for different reasons, which we explore in more depth below.

    Unmarried couples may wish to read more about cohabitation agreements as there is no such thing as common-law husband and wife in England and Wales.

    Courts attach significant weight behind separation agreements, which means that even though they aren’t legally binding, they are enforceable if a set of conditions are met.

    Providing the agreement has been professionally drafted and is fair and reasonable, it’s unlikely that a Judge would interfere with your arrangements.

    Our experts have covered 6 of the most important things to know about separation agreements:

    6 need-to-knows about separation agreements

    1.Why separation agreements are useful for married couples

    Separation agreements can be used as a precursor to divorce or as an alternative if you aren’t ready to start proceedings or because you do not qualify to file yet.

    In England and Wales, you need to have been for a period of 12 months before being able to submit a divorce application.

    If your separation leads to a divorce, the separation agreement can be used in two ways.

    Firstly, it can be used as proof of your separation date should you need it to start proceedings or to use any of the separation-based grounds for divorce.

    Secondly, the agreement you’ve reached should form the basis of a financial consent order. The court has the discretion to overturn or vary the separation agreement as it is not strictly legally binding.

    However, the court is likely to adhere to the agreement if it is fair to both parties and it will not harm any children involved.

    2.Why separation agreements are useful for unmarried couples

    If you live with your partner and you are separating, you likely have many joint assets to divide that make up a normal life.

    Such things that make up a normal life could include a car, household bills, savings accounts, and property, etc.

    Unlike married couples, those that live together without getting wed have fewer rights and protections following a separation, which makes drawing up a separation agreement even more important.

    Setting out what is to happen with household bills, rent/mortgage, and other such payments before going your separate ways will ease stress and worry when separating.

    3.What can and should be included within our agreement?

    A range of things can be dealt with as part of a separation agreement, such as (but not limited to);

    • How much each party is to pay in respect of the mortgage, rent or household bills.
    • How any debts such as loans and overdrafts 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, e.g. parental access.

    4.Can I use a free template or draft my own 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.

    Don’t be put off drawing up a separation agreement because of the cost. Local solicitors will charge you £1000+VAT or more, however, our online service is more affordable for all.

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

    5.How a separation agreement is used if you 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.

    6.Meet these conditions to make your agreement legally enforceable

    For a court to consider enforcing your separation agreement as part of divorce proceedings, it would need to meet the following conditions:

    • The agreement must be freely entered into by both parties.
    • Both parties should have received independent legal advice before drawing up the agreement.
    • Both parties need to give full financial disclosure.
    • The circumstances of both parties are not considerably different from when the agreement was reached.

    If you can satisfy a Judge that these conditions are met and the agreement is fair and reasonable, it is unlikely that a judge would interfere with your agreement.

    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.

    Pro’s and Con’s of Separation Agreements

    The benefits of drawing up a separation agreement when separating far outweigh the few drawbacks. Providing a set of conditions are met with regards to the drafting of the contract, a court is likely to enforce it.

    Pro’s

    • It lets both parties know where they stand, which can take the heat away from the separation.
    • Both parties have certainty and clarity at a difficult time.
    • You can decide exactly what you’d like to include.
    • They are likely to be upheld by a court if they are drafted correctly.
    • It shows that both parties consider the relationship to be over and the date of separation.

    Con’s

    • It can be difficult to enforce as it’s strictly not legally binding.
    • Changes cannot be made unless both parties agree to them.
    • The court can disregard some parts or all of the agreement when it comes to a divorce.

    How to make a separation agreement without spending thousands…

    For any agreement to be upheld by a judge, it must be professionally drafted. This means having a legal professional such as a lawyer to draw it up for you.

    Typically, this would involve visiting multiple local solicitors and being shocked at the quotes you receive.

    However, there is an alternative option that thousands of people use each year to save time, stress and money.

    Our online separation agreement service costs just £399 fixed fee and involves our experienced solicitors drafting an agreement to your individual needs.

    This is not a template that you can get on Google as they will not be looked upon with any great weight by a Judge should you need to enact the agreement.

    Here is how to get started with our service;

    1. View our online service to see what’s included and how it works
    2. Complete our simple and secure online checkout (or call us)
    3. Complete an online questionnaire with the arrangements you’ve agreed
    4. Our solicitors will draft the agreement for you
    5. Both parties agree to the agreement and sign it

    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.

    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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