Separation Agreements

If you have separated from your partner but are not yet ready or able to issue divorce or dissolution proceedings, you may still want to divide your assets using a separation agreement.

You may choose to delay divorce proceedings or not get divorced at all, whether this be for religious, financial or practical reasons. In these circumstances, it is sensible to sort out your finances and come to an agreement on the distribution of assets. This can be done through a separation agreement.

A separation agreement is by consent, so your partner would need to be in agreement, and would detail how the assets are to be divided up, whether there should be any maintenance payable, and 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 may be persuaded by a separation agreement should an issue arise at a later date over the distribution of assets. However, that is usually only the case if legal advice has been taken by both parties and there has been full disclosure of your financial positions at the time you signed the agreement.

Unmarried Couples

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 do not yet exist for couples who cohabit. The courts do not therefore have the same powers to order financial provision, including maintenance, lump sums or pension sharing orders, as they would if you were married or in a civil partnership. Legislation on this topic is under review, but there have yet to be any substantive changes to the law on cohabiting couples.

It’s important to obtain clear legal advice so that you understand your position.

We can help you draw up a cohabitation agreement that sets out the position for you, should you separate from a partner that you live with.

Please read our blog: ‘Cohabitation Agreements – Say ‘I do’ to Protecting your Financial Position‘ for more information.

Pre-Marital/Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Pre-marital agreements are not currently legally binding in England and Wales.

However, if a pre-marital agreement has been entered into that is reasonable, was drafted by a legal professional, there was full disclosure about finances and both parties received independent legal advice, it is something that the courts, when dealing with the dissolution of marriage or civil partnership, will take into account when considering the division of assets.

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 family law team.