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Deciding to end a marriage or dissolve a civil partnership is a big step. For couples that need some time to assess the situation and consider whether a divorce is something they wish to pursue, a period of separation can be invaluable.

Spending time living independently from a spouse can offer precious breathing space and provides an opportunity to consider your options when the prospect of a divorce or dissolution seems too soon or too final.

In such cases, a separation agreement can be useful, setting out your respective responsibilities and providing much-needed clarity about your obligations during your time apart.

In this blog, our experienced Family law solicitors answer some frequently asked questions about separation agreements.

What is a separation agreement?

A separation agreement (also known as a ‘deed of separation’) is a written agreement made by couples that sets out the practical details, including various financial commitments and other arrangements, during a separation.

It can be used on a temporary basis or as a ‘holding agreement’, usually as a prelude to a divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership.

What can a separation agreement cover?

Separation agreements are bespoke and tailored to each couple’s needs and circumstances. Most contain provisions for:

  • Living arrangements. A separation agreement can set out who continues to live in the family home, or what happens if it is sold.
  • Arrangements for children. Details of where and with whom any children will live can be included in a separation agreement, along with information about visitation rights and parental access.
  • Maintenance payments. A separation agreement can state whether any maintenance is paid for you or your children, how much this is and how it is received.
  • Mortgages and rent. The agreement can set out each party’s respective financial obligations, including who will pay the mortgage or rent on a shared property.
  • Household bills. A separation agreement can include details of how household bills will be divided.
  • Joint accounts and investments. Separation agreements can outline how joint financial assets such as savings and investments are managed during your time apart and how these will be divided post-separation.
  • Debts and liabilities. How any debts or liabilities are handled can be included in a separation agreement.
  • Personal items. A separation agreement can also include information about what happens to items such as cars, furniture, and other personal effects, especially those items bought jointly.

Can an unmarried couple get a separation agreement?

Yes, a separation agreement is available to civil partners and both married and unmarried couples.

There is no such thing as common law partners and unmarried couples who live together enjoy no extra protection under the law.

A separation agreement can help cohabiting couples who are splitting up by setting out what happens to jointly-held assets and ensuring they are distributed fairly.

How do I get a separation agreement?

Specialist legal advice is vital to ensure your separation agreement is fair, protects your interests, and is correctly drafted so that it will be upheld by the court.

A solicitor will also ensure a separation agreement includes all necessary arrangements and can help you and your partner agree on terms.

What if my spouse and I can’t agree on arrangements?

If you and your partner are having trouble agreeing on the terms of a separation agreement, family mediation can help.

A neutral mediator can act as a trusted third party, assisting with the lines of communication and enabling you and your partner to engage in open discussions and reach agreements.

Enlisting the help of an experienced family mediator means you retain complete control of the process while benefiting from guidance that ensures conflict is managed and minimised.

Our Louise Martin is a Family Mediator and can help you both make choices for you and your family, at your pace and convenience. Mediation enables you to make the decisions. Family mediation is often regarded as a cost-effective means of out of court dispute resolution.

Mediation is especially important when children are involved. You can talk to your family mediator about funding for family mediation about children issues under the Mediation Voucher scheme. At Onions & Davies, our family lawyers are specialists in non-confrontational dispute resolution, providing timely and cost-effective assistance in reaching personalised agreements during separation.

We prioritise minimising conflict and preserving relationships throughout the process.

We will work with you to draft a comprehensive separation agreement that covers all the essential aspects, ensuring your best interests are met while considering the needs of your loved ones.

If you instruct us to provide legal advice, but you also require mediation services, we can refer you to reputable mediators in Shropshire, Cheshire, or Staffordshire and provide further guidance on this beneficial process. Funding for family mediation via Legal Aid or the Mediation Voucher Scheme may be available, and we can provide you with more information about this.

We also have the advantage of offering in-house family mediation services, and you can talk to our family team about how we can best help you.

For more information, or to speak to one of our Family lawyers in Shropshire, Cheshire, or Staffordshire, email or call 01630 652 405.

What are the advantages of separation agreements?

Making a separation agreement has numerous advantages, including:

  • It is tailored to your needs, and you can decide what to include.
  • Peace of mind. By clearly documenting practical matters in a separation agreement, both parties know that important aspects of their relationship are addressed, which will foster an amicable and well-structured transition to a divorce or dissolution.
  • Provides clarity. Agreeing with your partner on important arrangements means you both know where you stand.
  • Helps in a divorce. If divorce or dissolution follows the separation, carefully crafted separation agreements help streamline the legal process and minimise legal costs by helping to avoid lengthy court proceedings.

Are separation agreements legally binding?

Separation agreements are not automatically legally binding. However, the court will uphold agreements that can be shown to have been properly made and fairly negotiated.

Family Solicitors Near Me

At Onions & Davies, we understand why a divorce may not be suitable for some couples and they may wish to consider a separation agreement instead.

We pride ourselves on our compassionate approach and dedication to achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients. Our team of separation agreement solicitors is here to guide you through every stage of the process, providing tailored solutions to suit your unique circumstances.

Come and see our family solicitors, Louise Martin or Simeon Bowen-Fanstone, for a no-obligation fixed fee appointment. Gain the information and support you need to make informed decisions regarding separation agreements and all family law matters.

Onions & Davies Solicitors provide legal services in Market Drayton and the surrounding areas, including Whitchurch, Telford, Shrewsbury, Loggerheads, Nantwich, Crewe, Eccleshall and Newcastle.

To speak to one of our Family law solicitors, please call us on 01630 652405 or use our online contact form.