I have separated from my former partner, but we are not ready to divorce or dissolve our Civil Partnership, how do we deal with the family finances in the meantime?
If you are married or are in a Civil Partnership and you decide to separate, you may think that divorce or dissolution is your only option. However, it may be that a Separation Agreement may be appropriate if you are not yet ready or able to proceed with a divorce or dissolution.
A Separation Agreement is a document that sets out what you and your former partner intend to happen to your finances as a result a current or future separation. A separation agreement can outline your decision to live apart, your ongoing obligations, how your assets will be distributed and any arrangements for your children.
In England and Wales, Separation Agreements are not strictly binding and carry the same weight as any contract which can be challenged in Court. However, if both you and your former partner have had separate independent legal advice and the Court considers the agreement reached to be fair, it will take a Separation Agreement into consideration when making an order in respect of the joint assets.
The courts have indicated that to consider whether a Separation Agreement is fair, there are a number of factors to be taken into consideration. First, the Court will want to know whether you and your former partner obtained independent legal advice and exchanged details of your individual financial positions prior to signing the agreement. The Court also considers whether the agreement reached enables both you and your former partners basic needs to be met upon divorce or dissolution of your Civil Partnership. The Court will not consider an agreement fair if there was any pressure or duress applied to you or your former partner to sign, or if there was any fraud or misrepresentation by either of you. The Separation Agreement also needs to be executed in the correct way.
The terms of a Separation Agreement are of course individual to each couple, however, the main elements that an agreement typically covers is as follows: –
- Property – What should happen to the property now and in the future, and the arrangements surrounding that.
- Finances – What should happen with any financial obligations or debts.
- Children – The arrangements for the care of any children of the family.
If you would just like to obtain some advice as to whether a Separation Agreement is the right path for you, please contact our Head of Family, Monicka Rai at email@example.com or on 01296 747 151 to arrange a fixed fee initial consultation.