A Separation Agreement is a mechanism of agreeing financial matters arising from the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership. It can be made before, during or after a divorce or civil partnership dissolution. It should not be confused with judicial separation which is a separate and quite rare issue. A separation agreement is quite simply a contract which resolves issues arising from the breakdown of the relationship.
Common clauses state how the parties will resolve the financial matters, arrangements for the children and where people shall live. One benefit of Separation Agreements is that by their nature they allow quite a degree of flexibility as to what can be included.
A Separation Agreement should be considered by the parties as a means of recording what has been agreed. The other common mechanism is a consent order. The benefits of a Separation Agreement as against a consent order are:
1. They can be quickly drafted and signed, and the parties do not have to go through the process of persuading a Court to approve a consent order.
2. There is more flexibility as to what can be included in a Separation Agreement as against what the Court has the power to order in a consent order.
3. It can be agreed prior to a divorce or civil partnership dissolution taking place or progressing to an extent when a consent order can be approved by the Court. This can often be useful when the parties want to agree and implement certain arrangements, and are less concerned about immediately progressing a divorce or civil partnership dissolution.
A potential risk of a Separation Agreement is that a party can apply to the Court for an order that it should not be bound by the contents at a later date. However, a Court will not do this lightly. If you have been open and honest about your finances, and have taken various safeguards such as legal advice, then it is probably unlikely to be cost effective or sensible for the other party to ask the Court to overturn what the Separation Agreement records about the financial matters.