Higgins Miller are the perfect people to speak to if you’d like to find out more about separation agreements in the UK- how they work, what they involve and the legal status that they have. We’re family law specialists and that means that we’ve got lots of experience of dealing with people facing some of the most stressful events life could throw at them. It also means that, as well as offering support and empathy, we fully understand the legal complexities of issues such as children disputes, wills and probate and adoption. We offer advice on issues such as a separation agreement in the UK in a clear and calm manner, using plain English rather than complex legal jargon and making sure that every client fully understands what’s happening throughout the process.
There is a common misconception that a separation agreement in the UK can only be drawn up by people who have been living together for a period of time without formalising their relationship, but in fact it can be utilised by married couples or those in a civil partnership, as well as cohabiting couples. In the case of cohabiting couples, the option of a separation agreement in the UK is an acknowledgement of the fact that living together for any period of time is almost bound to lead to the lives and finances of a couple becoming entangled. If and when the relationship comes to an end, this entanglement needs to be resolved so that both parties can get on with the rest of their lives. In some cases a couple might want to explore the options which would face them on separation well before any actual separation takes place, perhaps because they aren’t emotionally ready to go their separate ways yet, or because they aren’t yet in a position to access legal advice. This could also apply to a married couple, or one in a civil partnership, who don’t want to trigger formal divorce proceedings yet.
No matter what the specific circumstances are, a separation agreement in the UK takes the form of a document which pulls together the relevant details of a couple’s life and creates an agreement over what will happen in the event of a separation. The kind of details which are usually included in a separation agreement in the UK include responsibilities which are shared by both parties, such as any parental responsibilities, bills to be met and mortgage payments. In addition, the separation agreement in the UK will include a list of assets shared by the couple, such as saving accounts, property and motor vehicles. Some couples opt to include contingencies for future events, including the future income from pensions and the potential long term cost of raising any children. Taking the right legal guidance when drawing up a separation agreement in the UK will ensure that it creates a firm foundation on which to base a full-scale separation and a framework through which to deal with possibly contentious issues, such as whether any jointly-owned property needs to be sold so that the revenue can be released and divided.
The kind of details which might be covered by a separation agreement in the UK are the following:
- Dealing with debt from sources such as loans, credit cards and overdrafts
- Dealing with assets including stocks, shares, savings, investments and pensions
- Maintenance arrangements which need to be made for any children
- Other details of parental care such as where the children will live and how access for both parties will be arranged
- The division of responsibility for paying the rent or mortgage and other on-going household bills
- A decision over whether the family home will have to be sold on separation and, if not, which of the partners will continue to live in it
- How assets purchased jointly during the relationship will be dealt with. This could include items such as furniture and cars.
If a separation agreement in the UK is drawn up following the end of a relationship it demonstrates that both parties fully accept the relationship has ended. It formalises the date on which the relationship ended and can play a major role in removing tension and conflict from a separation. It’s also flexible enough for each partner to have a say in what is included, and because a separation agreement in the UK establishes exactly where each party stands it means there is less likelihood of issues eventually having to be resolved by a court.
The detail which matters most when a separation agreement in the UK is being draw up is that both parties are totally honest about their finances. This happens via a process known as ‘financial disclosure’, which involves each party completely accounting for factors such as property, debt, investments and savings. Until all of these details are known it won’t be possible to fairly agree on how assets and liabilities can be divided. The other vital part of the process involves both parties seeking independent legal advice. A solicitor such as the experts at Higgins Miller will be able to offer advice on whether the separation agreement should be signed as it stands, or whether they feel there is an issue such as some financial details being held back. The other big advantage of both parties taking legal advice is that it makes it more likely that any separation agreement in the UK will be upheld by a court in the future. This is an important detail – although a separation agreement in the UK is not legally enforceable the fact that it has been drawn up correctly and only signed after independent legal advice has been sought makes it highly unlikely that any court will allow the agreement to be broken.
If you want to find out more about creating a separation agreement in the UK 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.