Who is a separation agreement for?
Separation agreements can be used by separating couples who are married or in a civil partnership and unmarried couples.
For those who are married or in a civil partnership, a separation agreement is a way to manage day-to-day finances and other arrangements until they decide to get divorced, dissolve their civil partnership, or until they decide to rebuild their relationship. Sometimes couples draw up separation agreements because they are not ready to take the final step to end their relationship. Other times, they have not been married long enough to start divorce proceedings but wish to record their agreement.
Unmarried couples who share finances, property and other responsibilities such as children may draw up a separation agreement to formally set out how they will organise these aspects of their lives.
What can separation agreements cover?
A separation agreement might set out:
- Child maintenance payments. Although these are normally enforced through the Child Maintenance Service, sometimes payments are covered in a separation agreement, particularly if the person paying maintenance will contribute more than the Child Maintenance Service calculation. A clause can be included to allow for increases in the cost of living.
- Who the children will live with and how contact with the children will be managed. This ensures that both parents maintain a good relationship with their children. A parenting plan that sets out day-to-day practicalities could be included in the agreement.
- Arrangements for family pets, including who will look after them and pay vet bills and other expenses.
- What will happen to the family home, and who will live in it. For example, there might be an agreement not to sell the home until the children complete secondary education or other triggering events when the family home might be sold and the proceeds split.
- Whether there will be a lump sum payment from one party to the other, the separation agreement might set out the amount and the date by which the lump sum will be paid.
- Who will manage which debts. With joint debts, both parties are equally liable, so it is sensible to decide how this will be managed, especially if one party is more able to pay off their share.
- How financial assets such as savings will be divided. It is important to seek legal advice about pensions as this can be complex.
- How valuable items such as cars and furniture will be shared.
- Who will pay the mortgage, rent and other bills.
For married couples, a separation agreement can include a provision for divorce. This will state that the separation agreement will be the basis for the divorce settlement.
What if you and your ex-partner cannot agree arrangements?
At Davisons, our solicitors can help you to agree on the terms of a separation agreement with your ex-partner. We can negotiate with their solicitor on your behalf. Alternatively, we can support you to work with your ex-partner to reach an agreement yourselves through family mediation.
Once you are happy with the terms, we can draft a separation agreement for you and your ex-partner to sign and have witnessed.