A Guide to Separation Agreements

11 September 2023

What is a Separation Agreement?

A Separation Agreement is a formal written document between a separated couple, which can be used by married and unmarried partners. The objective of a Separation Agreement is to formally address and stipulate the terms of division of shared assets and responsibilities, any financial arrangements and matters relating to shared child care upon separation. This separation can be a trial separation prior to divorce, or a separation of cohabitating partners.  

Is a Separation Agreement the same as Prenuptial and/or Postnuptial Agreements?

No. Whilst similar in the sense that both are written agreements, a separation agreement differs from both prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements. While a prenuptial agreement is entered into prior to a marriage, with the view of protecting wealth and assets acquired beforehand, a postnuptial agreement is entered into during marriage to protect wealth and assets acquired during the marriage. A Separation Agreement is produced upon separation and often with the expectation to terminate the relationship.

What are the benefits of getting a Separation Agreement?

A Separation Agreement can be highly beneficial as it allows couples to separate and formally divide any shared assets, even if divorce is not an option. Separation Agreements may cover a variety of matters, including but not limited to:

  • Housing arrangements;
  • Child-care arrangements;
  • Debt, loans and overdraft arrangements;
  • Potential maintenance payments;
  • Division of personal property.

During a difficult transitional time they can provide clarity and some financial stability, allowing parties to get back on their feet with a sense of security.

Are Separation Agreements legally binding?

Separation Agreements are not legally binding. The terms agreed upon in the Separation Agreement can be made legally binding where divorce is appropriate, upon instruction of a solicitor and upon the terms being deemed appropriate given the circumstances of each party. Each party should seek independent legal advice upon entering into a Separation Agreement.

Having a written agreement prevents ex-partners from withdrawing from any prior verbal agreements – albeit not legally binding – resulting in Separation Agreements providing extra security between the period of separation and divorce.

For more information, please contact our Family team.

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