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Divorce and Finance

Separation Agreements

If your relationship has broken down, but you are not yet ready to consider the possibility of divorce or civil partnership dissolution, a trial separation can be a good way to get a clearer idea of how you feel and whether you are truly ready for your relationship to end.

If your partner agrees to a trial separation, there are likely to be various practical issues you need to consider to ensure you and your family are taken care of during the separation. Our expert family lawyers have extensive experience guiding families through separation, including planning for the practical aspects of the arrangement.

We can help you agree the terms of the separation with your partner and create a legally binding separation agreement, setting out the terms of the separation. This provides assurance for everyone involved over the details of the separation, allowing you to focus your energies into reflecting on your relationship and what you want to happen next.

For advice and support with any aspect of divorce and separation, please get in touch with our family lawyers in London and across the South East now by calling 020 8017 8962 or contact your local Crisp & Co office.

How separation agreements work

A separation agreement can be used when a couple who are married or in a civil partnership wish to separate, but have not yet decided whether they wish to divorce or dissolve their civil partnership.

The separation agreement can be used to set out various important practical matters that will need to be taken care of, such as:

  • Where both spouses/civil partners will live
  • Where any children you have together will live
  • How the mortgage/rent on a shared property will be paid
  • How any other shared costs, such as bills, will be paid
  • What will happen to any joint accounts, investments etc.

When creating a separation agreement, it is absolutely essential to have expert legal advice and support from a family lawyer experienced in these matters. Not only will this give you the reassurance that the agreement is fair and all the necessary details have been taken care of, but by using a family lawyer trained in non-confrontational dispute resolution, you should also be able to keep the process more amicable and minimise the potential for any conflict.

With the guidance of our expert solicitors, who are highly trained and experienced in non-confrontational family dispute resolution, we can help you create a separation agreement that works for you and your loved ones, protecting your interests and wellbeing.

Non-confrontational family dispute resolution for separation

When agreeing a separation and the terms involved using a separation agreement, it is essential to do so in as amicable a way as possible to prevent any further deterioration in your relationship with your partner.

Our family lawyers are experts in non-confrontational dispute resolution, meaning we can help you agree the details of your separation quickly and cost-effectively, while keeping conflict to a minimum and helping to protect your relationship.

Family mediation for separation – This is a popular choice for separation as it allows you and your partner to discuss and agree the details of your separation and separation agreement together with the support of a mediator, who acts as a neutral third-party. This means you keep complete control of the process, while the mediator is there to help guide the discussions and prevent any potential conflict from escalating.

Collaborative law for separation – Where there are more complicated issues to resolve, collaborative law can offer a helpful alternative. This involves both you, your partner and your respective lawyers sitting down for a series of four-way meetings to negotiate the details of your separation. The benefit here is that you each have immediate access to legal advice from your own representatives, giving you confidence that your interests are protected at all times.


Common questions about separation & separation agreements

When should I use a separation agreement?

If you and your partner believe that your relationship is no longer working, but are not sure whether it can be saved, a separation can give you the space to consider things, see how you feel about living apart and try options such as relationship counselling. A separation agreement can ensure that all of the practical details needed to make your lives work are taken care of.

Alternatively, a separation and separation agreement can be useful as a stopgap on the way to divorce or civil partnership dissolution. This can allow you to ensure immediate issues such as paying your mortgage and where your children live can be temporarily taken care of while you agree a more permanent solution.

A separation agreement can also be used if you and your partner have been married or in a civil partnership for less than a year, meaning you are not eligible yet for divorce or civil partnership dissolution.

Will a separation agreement affect my divorce?

A separation agreement is entirely distinct from any agreement you make during divorce or civil partnership dissolution, so the terms of the separation agreement will not necessarily be carried over to your financial settlement or arrangements for children if you decide to permanently end your relationship.

If your divorce or civil partnership dissolution ends up being handled through the courts, a judge may given consideration you any separation agreement you entered into, as long as it was correctly produced. However, they are under no obligation to maintain the terms of the agreement when making a judgement about how your finances and other issues should be resolved.

Is a separation agreement legally binding?

A separation agreement will generally be considered legally binding on both parties as long as it has been prepared correctly and in accordance with the appropriate legal standards.

Generally speaking, the terms of the agreement will need to be fair to both parties, each partner will need to have a true picture of the other’s true financial situation and each will need to have received independent legal advice before signing the agreement.

As long as all of these conditions have been met, a court will usually consider a separation agreement to be legally enforceable.

Can I change the terms of a separation agreement?

A separation agreement can be changed, but only if both parties agree to the changes. If you wish to vary the terms of your separation agreement it is therefore a good idea to speak to your partner about this at the earliest opportunity, ideally with the support of a lawyer trained in non-confrontational dispute resolution. This can significantly increase your chances of amicably agreeing the required changes.

What should be included in a separation agreement?

A separation agreement will typically cover all of the key issues you need clarified in order to be able to live apart successfully.

This typically includes:

  • A formal agreement to live apart
  • A time table for one or both of you to move out of your shared home
  • What, if any, financial maintenance one party will pay to the other during the separation
  • How any jointly owned property will be dealt with e.g. how the mortgage or rent will be paid, if the property needs to be sold or the tenancy ended, how any proceeds from sale of the property will be divided etc.
  • Where any children you have together will live, what access each party will have to them and any other practical issues that need to be agreed.
  • Full and frank disclosure of both parties financial situation
  • How any financial issues will be resolved e.g. access to or division of assets in joint accounts, what happens to shared investments etc.
  • Any other issues that need to be clarified e.g. what happens to pets, personal possessions etc.

    Why choose Crisp & Co for your separation?

    Crisp & Co’s specialist family lawyers have been helping couples and families to deal with separation and separation agreements for more than 20 years. With particular expertise in non-confrontational family dispute resolution, we take pride in being able to help the majority of our clients to amicably agree the details of their separations. This allows families to avoid unnecessary conflict and maintain better relationships, as well as saving time, money and a lot of stress.

    Our team includes several members of Resolution – a group of family lawyers committed to removing the conflict from family law – and trained collaborative lawyers. This gives us access to additional training, allowing us to effectively manage and defuse conflict in family disputes, such as those leading to and involved in separation.

    We are also highly experienced in guiding individuals and families through all aspects of divorce and civil partnership dissolution. This means that if your separation does result in a decision to permanently end your relationship, we can be there for you every step of the way.

    Get in touch with our separation agreement solicitors in London & South East England

    For help separation and separation agreements, please contact our specialist family lawyers in London and across the South East now by calling 020 8017 8962 or contacting your local Crisp & Co office.