In this article we look to answer the question: “What is a Separation Agreement UK?”.
When separating from a partner, there are a lot of things that need to be sorted out.
You may be separating from your husband, wife, or civil partner – but you must have been married for at least 1 year to formally end a civil partnership or divorce your partner.
You might even be cohabiting with a partner. Or you are not married to or in a civil partnership with someone. Meaning that divorce isn’t an option.
So, what do you need to figure out?
When you’re separating from a partner, there are a few things to work out, depending on your circumstances.
- Where you will live
- How to divide any money, assets, and belongings you share
- Whether you’ll be able to afford the household bills and costs once you’re both living apart
- Where your children (if you have any) will live, and how often they’ll see the other parent
Is a separation agreement an option?
It’s a good option to consider because it sets out how you will divide your assets and responsibilities. It can also make the entire process much more amicable.
And it goes without saying that having a legal basis through the agreement will make everything smoother.
Whether you’re married or not, a separation agreement is a viable option.
Relationships are complicated, and the financial makeup of your relationship is unique to you.
Whether you share bills, split the mortgage, or rent, or pay for specific childcare arrangements, there’s likely to be conflict over how to resolve those issues once one of you moves out.
A separation agreement formally addresses these issues and determines the steps that need to be taken to resolve them. That might be selling your property to split the revenue or dividing assets in specific ways to ensure a fair split based on childcare arrangements and other factors.
Now, it’s worth noting that a separation agreement isn’t a legally binding document.
You’ll need a consent order for finances upon divorce, or child arrangements order for parenting on divorce or separation to secure a legally binding document that’s been approved by the court.
BUT a separation agreement invites the court to accept your agreement.
And as long as certain factors are adhered to, they’re likely to accept it – basically, if you have a separation agreement in place then you’re more protected than if you don’t, as long as it’s prepared correctly.
You might find the first separation agreement template you see and fill it in. But if you want to make sure that it’s legally sound and both parties are happy, it’s advisable to seek the advice of a legal professional.
What does a separation agreement actually entail?
The key aspect of a separation agreement is that it’s unique to you.
It’ll outline your circumstances, including your name, how long you’ve been cohabiting or living together, if there are any children involved, and the date of the separation.
It’ll also state precisely why the agreement is being made, and three basic principles need to be adhered to if the court is to approve the agreement:
- The fact you’re entering the separation agreement of your own free will
- Both partners must make full disclosure of their finances, assets, and responsibilities
- This agreement is final – no further claims can be made once everything is agreed
Child arrangements aren’t included in the agreement, though they can be added as an appendix – but, they’re not legally binding in this instance.
The only way to have a legally enforceable parenting agreement is to apply for a child arrangements order.
When you’re creating a separation agreement, you and your partner must work together to ensure everything is amicable. This is to avoid issues further down the line.
If you’re not on good terms, then you can do this through your solicitors or legal representatives. But it’s always worth exploring all of your options.
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