If you have separated your partner and are not yet ready or able to issue divorce proceedings you may still be able to divide assets using a separation agreement.
In many circumstances the grounds for divorce can be complicated for example, one partner may not wish to go down the route of blaming the other party in order to issue divorce proceedings. In this circumstance the couple would have to decide that divorce proceedings should be issued once they have been separated for two years. By doing this no one has the blame their spouse for irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as stated in the grounds for divorce.
You may choose to leave divorce proceedings for two years. However, if you do it is sensible to sort out any financial issues in the meantime. This can be done through a separation agreement. In a separation agreement you would agree how the assets are to be divided up, whether there should be any maintenance payable and you can also set out arrangements in relation to your children.
Although separation agreements are not court orders and there is no guarantee that they would be legally binding, the court would still be persuaded by a separation agreement if there was an issue at a later date. However, that is only if legal advice has been taken by both parties and there has been full disclosure of your financial positions at the time your signed the agreement.
A separation agreement is always an option to be considered but as the name implies, only if agreement can actually be reached.
There is no such thing as a common law marriage even if you have lived together for many years.
The rights that couples who are married or have gone through a civil partnership have, unfortunately do not exist for couples who live together. The courts do not have the same powers to order maintenance for you as they would if you were married. It’s important to obtain clear legal advice so that you understand your position.
We can help you draw up a legally binding cohabitation agreement that sets out the position for you.
Please read our blog, ‘Are Cohabitees in a Weak Position?‘ for more information.
Whilst pre-marital agreements are not law in England and Wales at the present time, if there is a pre-marital agreement it is something that the courts, when dealing with the dissolution of marriage or civil partnership, will take into account as one of the factors under Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. We can assist you in drafting a pre-marital (pre-nuptial) agreement to give some protection in the event of the breakdown of a marriage or civil partnership.
For more information about separation agreements and pre-nuptial agreements, please contact a member of our team.