The purpose of a separation agreement is to narrate settlement terms in a binding contract between a couple whose relationship has broken down.
Five key points about a Separation Agreement
- It can cover arrangements for children, how the house is to be dealt with and financial settlement terms.
- It should be a full and final settlement so use a divorce lawyer to draft the terms – accurate wording is very important.
- Sometimes called a Minute of Agreement.
- Less expensive than raising a court action.
- Best that each party has a lawyer, to avoid a claim by one party that he/she was forced to sign it accepting unfair terms.
What goes in the Separation Agreement?
Individual circumstances will vary and appropriate clauses will be required to reflect that. The agreement should narrate clauses in specific and clear terms, otherwise it may be unenforceable. Here is a list of starting points to work on:
- Full name and address of both husband and wife (or civil partners) and children.
- Date of marriage or civil partnership, date of separation and date of birth of each child.
- Children arrangements. Normally they will mainly reside with one parent (“residence”) and have specified periods with the other (“contact”). This can be quite a detailed clause depending on circumstances.
- Agreed child maintenance payments, method of increases from time to time or remit to CSA.
- Disposal of house by sale or title transfer.
- Financial settlement and maintenance payments to other spouse/civil partner.
- The agreement is full and final.
- Full disclosure has been made by both parties.
What to do next
If you are well prepared, you can save both time and money with the divorce lawyer you use. Here are some steps to take:
- List as much information as you can (see section above, “What goes in the Separation Agreement?”).
- Contact one of our family law specialists. Ask if the lawyer can prepare a Separation Agreement and what the cost will be. If you have not agreed terms with your spouse ask for advice from the lawyer.