Not everyone is ready to divorce when they separate, but still need to deal with and protect themselves in respect of the financial consequences of the breakdown of their marriage.

This can be done by entering into what is a called a ‘Separation Agreement’ which is a formal document setting out the agreement reached in respect of the assets and incomes of the marriage and, is signed by both parties whose signatures are witnessed by independent witnesses.

It is important to note that Separation Agreements are not binding on the Court when the decision is made to divorce and, the Court will have to consider other factors and in particular, the extent of the assets and incomes and the needs both parties and the children may have, especially for housing and income, at the time of the divorce. The only way to obtain a final binding financial order is during or after a divorce. However, a properly prepared Separation Agreement is vital as evidence to show the Court what the assets were at the time of separation and, the agreement reached as to how these were shared.  A properly prepared Separation Agreement will be persuasive and fully considered by the Court on divorce and, even if it is not fully upheld may help to limit any further claim that your ex-partner may have against you (absent any significant changes in circumstances).

In order to properly prepare a Separation Agreement and give it the best chance of being upheld when the time comes to divorce, each party should fully disclose to the other (supported by documentary evidence) their assets and incomes and, each should obtain legal advice. The Court will also want to ensure that neither party had entered into the Agreement under duress.

For full advice on Separation Agreements and how these must be prepared to give them the best chance of being upheld or, for any other family law related matter please contact one of our specialist family Solicitors Alex Kennedy at our Brighouse office 01484 714400, Jayne Shorrock at our Morley office 0113 4673430, Candice Pidsley at our Cleckheaton office 01274 864002, Deborah Marsh at our Leeds office 0113 4874020, Erin Clarke at our Batley office 01924 473065 and Jayne Shorrock at our Birstall office 01924 443900.