Separation agreements for Civil Partners or Married Couples:
People who are already married or in a civil partnership can enter into a separation agreement setting out what they intend for their money, property and other practical issues as a consequence of their current or planned separation. Separation agreements are usually entered into by parties who are separating but who do not wish to divorce just yet, perhaps for religious or practical reasons.
Separation agreements are contractual agreements between parties to a marriage or civil partnership. A separation agreement is a bespoke document drawn up for you, based on your particular circumstances. Often it will cover:
– the date of separation
– when you will get divorced and who will instigate the proceedings and on what grounds
– could include your obligations to maintain one another and any children of the family
– what is to happen to joint money/assets and joint debts/liabilities
-arrangements for any children of the marriage etc.
And as with other agreements, during the process of finalising a separation agreement, it is important that each party receive independent legal advice upon the contents of the agreement and its effects. Financial disclosure will need to take place. A separation agreement can also have a financial consent order attached to it. This enables it to be turned into a final court order when divorce proceedings are eventually initiated, as long as circumstances have not significantly changed from those envisaged when the separation agreement was made.
As with pre-nuptial agreements, separation agreements are not legally binding for the court, however if there is a dispute later, the existence of a separation agreement will be one of the factors that the court considers.
The court must consider, just as with pre-nuptial agreements, whether the agreement is ‘fair’. Agreements are more likely to be considered fair if they are recent, if the circumstances have not changed and if you both knew exactly what you were getting into when the separation agreement was made, both legally and financially, without undue pressure being applied.