Everything You Need to Know About a Separation Agreement UK

Making any predictions with regard to the Covid-19 situation is complicated by the fact that it’s a situation that can change incredibly quickly, with measures which might have seemed unthinkable in the morning being imposed on large parts of the country by late afternoon. One fact which seems obvious, however, is that restrictions will stay in place for some time to come, and that one of the realities of any kind of lockdown is that it places immense pressure on relationships. That’s why many people may now be considering a separation agreement in the UK. 

If you want to find out more about a separation agreement in the UK then Higgins Miller are the ideal solicitors. We specialise in family law, which means that we’re used to dealing with highly complex cases involving issues such as wills and probate, adoption and children disputes. In all circumstances we balance an expert grasp of the legal technicalities of a situation with an empathetic and understanding approach. We realise that the end of a relationship imposes a huge amount of stress on both parties, and that’s why we deal with any separation agreement in the UK in a way which is supportive and sympathetic, and which uses clear, plain English rather than legal jargon. 

A separation agreement in the UK can be used by people who have been cohabiting, or by those who are married or in a civil partnership. For those who are cohabiting the option of a divorce doesn’t exist, of course, despite the fact that their lives and finances might be just as intertwined as those of a married couple. Married couples and those in a civil partnership may opt for a separation agreement in the UK because they are not yet emotionally ready to instigate divorce proceedings, or aren’t currently in a position to access legal guidance. In all cases, a separation agreement in the UK is a formal document which gathers together the details of a couple’s life and sets out exactly what they both agree will happen in the event of a separation. For the vast majority of people, the details will include shared assets such as property, cars and saving accounts, as well as shared responsibilities like bills which have to be paid, mortgage payments and parental responsibilities. In some cases the agreement will also include plans for situations which are likely to arise in the future, such as the income from pensions and the cost of raising children. If a separation agreement in the UK is drawn up properly, with the right legal guidance, it can create a fair framework for dealing with the fall-out of separation and details such as whether property needs to be sold in order to free up and divide the revenue:

Specific areas which might be covered in a separation agreement include the following: 

  • How debts such as loans, overdrafts and credit card balances will be dealt with
  • How to deal with assets such as stocks, shares, savings, investments and pensions
  • Any maintenance arrangements for the children of a relationship
  • Arrangements for where the children will live and how parental access will be organised
  • Who is responsible for paying the rent/mortgage and household bills 
  • Which partner will continue to live in the family home or whether it will in fact be sold 
  • What to do with assets which were purchased jointly, such as furniture and cars

The advantages of a separation agreement in the UK include the fact that it is a flexible format which allows each couple to pick and choose what should be included, it demonstrates acceptance by both parties that the relationship has ended and the date on which it ended, it can remove some of the conflict from the end of a relationship, lessening the chances of issues having to be resolved in court and it enables both parties to know exactly where they stand.    

There are a couple of things which need to be in place if a separation agreement in the UK is going to prove to be successful. The first of these is that both parties need to be completely open and honest about their finances. This involves a process called ‘financial disclosure’ and it means both parties offer a complete account of factors such as their debts, savings, investments and property. Until this information has been set out in detail it will be impossible to agree a fair division of responsibilities and assets moving forward. The second vital aspect of any separation agreement in the UK is that both parties should seek independent legal advice. The advantages of this are two-fold; firstly a solicitor will be able to advise whether there are any reasons why an agreement shouldn’t be signed, such as a suspicion that some financial details have been held back, and secondly the fact that both parties have taken legal advice means that the agreement is more likely to be upheld by a court in the future. Although all separation agreements should be subject to independent legal advice this is particularly the case in more complex cases, such as when one party is much wealthier than the other, or when one party has gone out to work while the other has concentrated on raising a family and building the home. Although separation agreements of this kind are not strictly legally enforceable, if they are drawn up properly and signed after legal advice has been taken then there is very little chance of a court allowing the agreement to be broken.
If you want to find out more about a separation agreement in the UK or other aspects of relationships ending 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. This initial meeting can ensure that you understand why social services have made contact and can feel able to move forward with confidence. If you want to explore our wider charging system then please take a look here.

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October 8, 2020

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