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What is a Separation Agreement and when might I need one?

Separation Agreements can deal with how a couple intend to share their assets and liabilities when they decide to separate. Such an agreement will set out their intention to live apart and typically sets out their financial arrangements whilst they are separated.

When might you need to consider a separation agreement?

If a couple are not married but have joint assets and liabilities, a separation agreement is a good way to document the arrangements you have made, which for a married couple would usually be dealt with as part of a divorce.
When the couple is married, a separation agreement may be appropriate when divorce is not envisaged in the near future. For example, you have religious reasons against divorce or you wish to wait until you have been separated 2 years before petitioning for divorce, but wish to resolve the finances now.
Couples facing a relationship breakdown should seriously consider entering into a Separation Agreement as it if often very difficult to prove the terms of any verbal agreement if any dispute should arise at a later date.

What can be included in a separation agreement?

A separation agreement can cover almost anything you want it to including, who will pay the mortgage and household bills, who continues to live in the family home and/or what happens if it’s sold and what happens to savings, investments and other financial assets.
If you are married and are planning to make your separation permanent in due course, the separation agreement should ideally set out the final financial agreement that will be presented to the court when the divorce or dissolution finally goes through.

Is a Separation Agreement legally binding?

Although it can be a formal legal document, if it is drawn up correctly by experienced legal professionals, it is not technically legally binding on the court. A separation agreement is not a court order, and the court is not usually involved in creating it. It is, however, a contract – so it can still be challenged in a court in the same way as any other contract. That’s why it’s important that it is properly written by a solicitor.

If you require legal advice about entering into a separation agreement, would like a separation agreement drafted or know someone who is seeking advice on what their options are next after the breakdown of a relationship or marriage, contact Sweeney Miller Law’s expert team of specialists on Tel: 0191 5682050 or email lindsey@sweeneymiller.co.uk.

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