A Separation Agreement or ‘Deed of Separation’ can often be a very helpful document. If you and your spouse are not absolutely sure that you want to divorce or you want to try a period of separation first then a separation agreement may be ideal for you. It will enable you to agree matters to cover the interim period before either of you issue a divorce petition.
A Separation Agreement can also be helpful if you don’t want to introduce blame to the breakdown of your relationship. You can only divorce immediately if you allege adultery or unreasonable behaviour. If you do not want to do so as you wish to avoid unnecessary confrontation or animosity then you can instead divorce on the basis that you have been separated for two years and you both consent to the divorce. In such circumstances, a separation agreement can formalise the financial arrangements until the requisite two year period has passed and you can the proceed with the divorce on the basis of mutual consent rather than any fault.
One of the main advantages of Separation Agreements is the freedom to decide what issues are included and what matters you want addressed. It is up to you to decide what you want to deal with in the agreement and a Separation Agreement can cover many issues including the responsibility for mortgage payments or outgoings, who is to remains in the family home and where will the children live. Alternatively, it can cover a more definitive division of the assets such a sale of the family home, how to split jointly purchased assets or how pensions are to be divided. It can encompass all the interim and long-term issues depending on your situation and what it is you want to achieve.
And whilst a Separation Agreement is not enforceable in the same way as a court order, if both parties have been transparent about their finances and have received independent legal advice a court is likely to follow the terms of the agreement and uphold it.
If you do later decide to divorce, a properly drafted Separation Agreement can often speed up the process and potentially reduce your legal costs as a Separation Agreement can be turned into a legally binding Consent Order at that time.
If you think a Separation Agreement may assist you, please do not hesitate to contact us for an initial fixed fee appointment to understand everything you need to know. Please call our offices today on (01702) 338338 to speak with a member of our specialist family team. We are able to accommodate appointments in our Westcliff, Billericay, Benfleet and Stratford offices.