A comprehensive and effective separation agreement suitable for couples who wish to record the agreement that they have reached in relation to their living arrangements, finances, children and joint assets and liabilities.
About this separation agreement
When a relationship ends and partners go their own ways, there can be a great deal of uncertainty as to who will pay previously joint bills, how possessions and assets will be split, and who will look after any children.
For couples who are married or in a civil partnership, this separation agreement provides certainty as to how each person will live while a divorce is being settled. It is also suitable for separating couples who are not married. It provides both parties with a degree of protection and assurance in what would otherwise be a very uncertain time.
Why use this separation agreement?
There are a number of reasons to use a written separation agreement:
Prevent future arguments
A separation agreement is a written record of what you have agreed between yourselves. After signing the document, it is more difficult for one person to argue that he or she didnot agree to something.
Save time and money on solicitors
Solicitors can be good negotiators and can offer good advice on entitlements, but there is nothing in a separation agreement that requires legal knowledge or a solicitor specifically. This document achieves much the same result as a few meetings with a solicitor, but without paying a high hourly cost. Unless you want a solicitor for another reason, you can save time and money by completing this document yourself.
It could form the basis of a consent order in divorce
If you can demonstrate that the agreement has worked well for a period of time, a judge could let it form the basis of a consent order in divorce proceedings.
Reduce stress, expedite proceedings and keep the relationship amicable
Court proceedings inevitably become acrimonious. There is a much greater chance of keeping your future relationship friendly - agreeing to a split that suits both parties, keeping joint friends and making access to children easier - if you can work out together the details of the separation before you reach court. A separation agreement can make the divorce process easier, faster and less stressful because many of the difficult things have been agreed already.
The law on separation agreements
A separation agreement is not binding in the same way as a commercial contract. If you do go to court, a judge has complete discretion to make an order in different terms.
However it is likely that the court will adopt the terms of your separation agreement provided that:
- the agreement is fair
- you both worked on the agreement without pressure and entered into it freely
- you have disclosed all of your assets in the agreement
- the agreement remains fair in the light of any changed circumstances since it was made
The extent to which a judge will adopt the separation agreement reflects the level of his acceptance of the above four points.
If one of you is in breach of the separation agreement and the other goes to court to enforce it, the judge will make an assessment as described above and will enforce the agreement to the extent that he feels it is right.
Note that arrangements for children have no legal standing. The court will take no account of what you have agreed but will start afresh in considering the interest of each child. Of course, if a satisfactory arrangement is in place, the court is likely to order that it remain undisturbed. It is always worth making arrangements for your children in order to promote a secure and firm framework for their lives.
Completing your separation agreement
This agreement is straightforward and easy to complete. You don't need to involve solicitors or go to court.
You should disclose all your assets and liabilities in the agreement. We provide for detailed disclosure, but we do not try to anticipate every asset you may have. Be very thorough in your disclosure. You may need to instruct experts (such as an accountant and/or a surveyor) to value financial and physical joint assets.
You should also discuss what you want from the separation – how assets and liabilities are to be divided.
The document provides for you to set down arrangements for your children. Your agreement with each other in this and other matters will reduce the risk of future discontent.
Separation agreement contents
The document includes paragraphs that cover:
- details of the parties and the separation date
- details of any children, if applicable
- arrangements for the disposal of the house by sale, or
- the option for one party to keep the home and be bought out by the other
- payment of outgoings such as bills and other expenses – who will pay what
- division of other possessions and household property
- assignment of insurance policies
- division of business property
- maintenance payments for the spouse and any children
- lump sum payments
- conclusion of joint accounts
- an option for the parties to agree to petition for a divorce after two years separation
- child maintenance arrangements
- parental rights arrangements
This document is drawn by Net Lawman lawyers to comply with current Irish law.
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