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What to do when you decide to separate

What to do when you decide to separate – whether you are considering a legal separation or you have separated from your partner but are not ready to get divorced yet, we can explain the different methods of dispute resolution available and advise on what to think about in respect of financial matters and child arrangements. We can also provide assistance should you wish to put a separation agreement in place.

What to include in a separation agreement?

Separation agreements are “contracts” drawn up for the separating parties, reflecting their particular circumstances. As such, it can cover almost anything the parties want it to. Nevertheless, it is vital that independent legal advice is obtained so that your solicitor can advise what provisions are likely to be enforceable. For most, separation agreements will almost always include some provision for the couple’s financial arrangements, including:

  1. Recording the date the parties separated alongside any intention on divorce proceedings, who might act as petitioner, the reason upon which the divorce may proceed and the costs of those proceedings;
  2. What is to happen to property either party brought into the marriage, including financial contributions towards the family home;
  3. What is to happen to inherited property received during the marriage;
  4. What will to happen to money held in joint accounts and property purchased jointly, possessions or other personal belongings;
  5. What maintenance might be paid to either party, what intentions the parties have relating to one another’s pensions;
  6. What arrangements can be agreed to review and vary the agreements that have been reached.

Independent legal advice should always be obtained if you are considering entering into a separation agreement, particularly in circumstances in which parties wish to include provision relating to children or overseas assets.

Applying for divorce after separation

Separation agreements may afford some provision for the parties’ intentions on how they wish to proceed with divorce proceedings. This can extend to setting out which party might act as Petitioner, upon what fact the divorce might proceed, whether costs might be claimed.

How a separation lawyer can help you

Obtaining independent legal advice will enable you to ensure that your concerns and the matters that are important to you are correctly recorded within a separation agreement, ensuring that provisions are considered binding to the greatest possible extent.

Of particular importance is the benefit a solicitor can provide in protecting assets and giving the parties some financial certainty following the breakdown of the parties’ relationship.

Separation vs divorce: What’s the difference?

Separation in family justice terms relates to the termination of the social construct of a parties’ relationship. There is a subjective, informality associated with separation, e.g. the parties may be separated and yet still continue to reside under the same roof at the family home.

Divorce is one mechanism by which the parties might undertake the formal, administrative process of ending a marriage. Other mechanisms are available, for example, judicial separation, but are significantly less popular.

Separation, and separation agreements in particular, provide a mechanism for the management of the “interim” – effectively, a way of striking a working agreement on how the separation will impact the parties until either elect to bring a finality to the prevailing arrangement. Divorce proceedings are the mechanism by which the parties convert that interim position to a final end.

Hawkins Family Law are family law specialists, which means we have years of experience with cases regarding divorce, separation and other family matters. If you are considering a separation, or have recently separated and would like to know where you stand, our family law specialists will provide reliable and accredited legal advice. Contact us to speak to one of our team today.

Philip Hunter

Philip Hunter

Philip is a Resolution member and formed part of the campaign to support no fault divorce proceedings. Philip is also contributor to the legal and national media on family law issues.

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