Separation agreements

A contractual agreement outlining your decision to live apart

Separation without divorce or ending a civil partnership

A separation agreement is a written contract between individuals who are contemplating separation, or who have already separated and can be used by both married and unmarried couples. 

Setting out financial arrangements during the separation period, they are drawn up in the following circumstances: If you and your spouse or civil partner are planning to make your separation permanent, but you do not wish to start any formal process yet such as divorce or dissolution proceedings. If you and your spouse or civil partner do not meet the legal requirements for a permanent separation – for example you have not been married for at least 12 months.

What does a separation agreement include?

A separation agreement can be tailor made to the couple’s individual circumstances and typically sets out the agreed arrangements during the period of separation such as:

  • What will happen to the family home
  • Who will live there and if it will be sold
  • How the mortgage and household bills will be paid
  • How the equity in the property will be divided
  • How any debts such as loans, overdrafts and credit card bills will be dealt with
  • What happens to any savings, investments, inheritance or other financial assets that have been acquired during the course of the marriage or relationship
  • What the arrangements for the children will be, including where they will live, how they will spend their time with both parents – and how their financial needs will be met

What are the advantages of a separation agreement?

Creating a separation agreement can prove beneficial for both parties involved, as it formally outlines the financial arrangements that have been agreed and the steps that need to be taken. This can help to reduce tension and avoid any misunderstandings in the future. It also provides you with the financial stability and time to reflect on whether you wish to formalise your separation by way of divorce or dissolution proceedings.

A separation agreement is not automatically legally binding in the same way that a court order is. However, it is more likely to be upheld by a court if it has been properly entered into.

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