For some couples they may not wish to enter into a divorce or dissolution right away. This can be for a number of reasons, including a desire to work on the marriage or simply to wait two years to present a divorce petition on the grounds of a two year separation period.
There are pros and cons to getting a separation agreement rather than filing for a divorce or dissolution straight away. The pro being that if there is any uncertainty, it gives both parties time to reflect. But the biggest con is that there is little chance of getting any financial security.
A formal separation agreement will need to be entered into willingly by both parties. It sets out how the couple’s assets should be divided and if there is going to be any ongoing financial support available. Each agreement is adapted to suit the couple’s unique circumstances. It should also include who will pay any debts.
However, a separation agreement is not a legally binding document. Although if it has been properly drawn up and does not unduly prejudice one party, then the court can hold both parties to it unless they have had a significant change in circumstance.
A separation agreement can provide a good basis for the financial consent order if the couple go on to divorce or dissolution at a later stage. This can ultimately speed up the process if it has all been agreed prior to divorce/dissolution proceedings.
However, the separation agreement cannot prevent either party from making changes to the financial agreement when applying for a financial consent order. Although it may limit their potential to be awarded something different from the original agreement.
As circumstances can change quite dramatically in the space of two years, initiating a divorce at the time of separation is sometimes a more desirable option. A financial consent order will create certainty over the finances and protect them both from unforeseen circumstances such as illness or bankruptcy.
Contact one of our family law specialists today to find out if a separation agreement is right for you.