The expert solicitors at Higgins Miller have huge experience of dealing with family law matters such as divorce, adoption and wills and probate. Our approach has always been to offer empathetic support as well as expert legal advice, and our experience has shown us that the kind of advice clients seek is constantly evolving.
One aspect of the work we do which has changed in recent years is that we deal with more and more couples who have opted to co-habitat rather formalising their arrangement through marriage or a civil partnership. Although a separation agreement can be useful for married couples or those in a civil partnership, they are more commonly used by couples who have opted simply to live together and now wish to separate. We understand that this can be as traumatic and complex as going through a divorce, since couples who live together for any length of time will inevitably find that their financial lives have become as entwined as their personal lives. The potential complexity of the separation process is why many people opt to wait for separation after Christmas, in order to protect any children involved in some cases, and in others simply to avoid having to spend the festive period telling everyone they meet that they are going to separate.
Any couple planning a separation after Christmas need to deal with the fact that the ways in which their lives have become enmeshed – such as joint bank accounts and jointly purchased possessions or homes – have to be resolved in order for each party to move on and live the rest of their life. Although separation after Christmas is still a few weeks away we know from experience that it’s never too early for the parties involved in a split to start discussing arrangements post-separation. A separation after Christmas will always be less stressful and easier to cope with if the couple in question have managed to draw up a separation agreement which brings together the relevant details and sets out how they will be handled post a separation after Christmas. The issues which will be covered in a separation agreement of this kind include the following:
- Shared responsibilities such as bills to be covered and mortgage payments
- Assets which the couple share such as property, savings accounts and motor vehicles
- In some agreements the couple will set out plans for future events, such as any income from pensions and the long term costs of raising any children involved
Taking the right legal advice when planning a separation after Christmas and drawing up an agreement will ensure that the discussions between a couple move forward in a smooth and amicable manner, and create a framework through which they can deal with difficult issues, such as the possibility of having to sell jointly owned property to release and divide the revenue involved.
In technical terms, an agreement for a separation after Christmas will have to cover the following:
- Debt from sources such as credit cards, overdrafts and loans
- Assets such as savings, investments, pensions and stocks and shares
- Maintenance agreements for any children
- Other aspects of childcare, such as where the children will live and the access to be enjoyed by each parent
- How on-going household bills such as rent or mortgage payments will be dealt with
- Whether the family home will be sold following a separation after Christmas and, if it isn’t, who will continue to reside in it
- Dealing with jointly purchased assets, such as cars and furniture
Drawing up a separation agreement of this kind with experts like those at Higgins Miller will show that both parties accept the relationship has ended, and formalise the date upon which this takes place. By allowing each party to have a say, and establishing where they both stand, an agreement of this kind will make it much less likely that a separation after Christmas ultimately leads to an appearance in court.
For an agreement about a separation after Christmas to work properly both parties have to be completely honest about their finances, through a process known as ‘financial disclosure’, and both have to seek independent legal advice. When we work with a client on separation of this kind we can tell them whether the agreement as it stands should be signed, or whether our experience leads us to believe that some financial details are being held back. Seeking independent legal advice when planning a separation after Christmas also makes it much more likely that any agreement you reach will be upheld by a court if it needs to be in the future.
If you want to ask about separation after Christmas please call us on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected]. We’ve recently passed our Cyber Essential accreditation, something which demonstrates our forward-thinking attitude and determination to remain ahead of the competition. The first 20-minute appraisal is provided free of charge, and we’ll give you the first appointment for a fixed fee, so you don’t have to worry about how much our advice is going to cost. If you want to explore our wider charging system then please take a look here.