If you have not yet decided to have a divorce or dissolve a civil partnership in England then you can have a Separation Agreement drawn up.
If you are an unmarried or cohabiting couple, you do not have to take any legal action to formalise the end of your relationship. However, there may be issues with children, money, housing and property that may need the help of a solicitor. In this case, a Separation Agreement may help sort out practical arrangements for the future.
It is highly recommended that you seek legal advice before signing a Separation Agreement as it is a potentially legally binding document. It is especially important to take legal advice if your breakup is acrimonious.
What is a Separation Agreement?
A Separation Agreement for English residents, whether for married couples, unmarried couples or civil partners, usually sets out the financial and practical agreements that will be followed once you have separated. It typically covers the following:
- Who will pay the mortgage, rent and household bills of your family home
- Who will continue to live in the family home
- What will happen if you decide to sell the family home
- Childcare arrangements
- Whether maintenance is paid to support you and any children you may have
- How any shared debts, such as loans and overdrafts, are repaid
- What happens to savings, investments and other financial assets including pensions
- How items such as cars or furniture will be paid for or divided up
Getting a Separation Agreement gives you both clarity and certainty. However, it is worth noting they are not easy to enforce; changes can only be made if you both agree to them. Also, it is possible for a court to dismiss some or all of its contents if you do go on to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership. It is not necessarily a pre-cursor to what a divorce settlement may look like.
Separation Agreements for married couples and civil partners
Separation Agreements are useful for married couples and civil partners who have not yet decided they want to divorce or dissolve their civil partnership. Such legal agreements are normally used for the following situations:
- If you have only been married for less than a year
- You have religious reasons against divorce
- You want time and space to decide if you want to end the marriage
If you opt for a legal separation you will have to fill out a judicial separation petition and state the reasons for your parting. However, you donâ€™t need to show that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
As mentioned above, if you are an unmarried couple you do not have to take any legal action to formalise your separation. However, if you have children together, shared assets, savings or debts, then signing a Separation Agreement can help to sort out the financial and practical arrangements that the end of a relationship brings.
A Separation Agreement for an unmarried couple pretty much outlines the same things as it does for a married couple. However, unmarried couples are not given the same protections as those who are married. For example, if one half of the couple owns the house that you live in, you may not have any claim on it regardless of how long you’ve lived there or how much you’ve contributed to paying the mortgage.
When your relationship ends, neither you nor your partner has to provide any financial support for each other, but you will both have financial responsibility for your children.
When it comes to property, if you and your partner own your property in joint names, either of you can apply to the court for an order that the home is to be sold and that the proceeds are to be divided equally between the two of you.
Unmarried couples are also unable to make any claims against each otherâ€™s pensions when the relationship comes to an end, nor are they able to make any claim against the otherâ€™s assets.
If you need expert, trusted legal advice on drawing up a Separation Agreement contact Barber & Co today. We have Separation Agreement solicitors across our three offices in Preston, Ramsbottom and Darwen.