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About this separation agreement
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract created between two spouses, at the time of their separation. This contract sets out each party’s rights on issues such as: child custody/access, property, debts and child/spousal support.
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 the children.
For married couples, a separation agreement like this one (sometimes called a deed of separation) provides certainty as to how each person will live while a divorce is being settled.
It is also suitable for:
- couples who are separating having not married, and for
- couples looking to end a civil partnership or same sex union.
This separation agreement provides both parties with a degree of protection and certainty in what would otherwise be a very uncertain time.
Why use this separation agreement
There are a number of reasons to use a written deed of separation:
- Prevent future arguments
A separation agreement is a written record of what you agreed between yourselves. After signing the document, it is more difficult for one person to argue that he or she did not 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. This document achieves much the same as a solicitor would do for you after a few meetings. Unless you want a solicitor for another reason, you can save time and money by completing this document yourself instead of asking him or her to do it for you at a high hourly cost.
- 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.
- Keep the relationship amicable
Court proceedings inevitably become acrimonious. There is a much greater chance of keeping your future relationship friendly (and agreeing 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 a court. A deed of separation can make divorce process easier, faster and less stressful because many of the difficult things have been agreed already.
The law on separation agreements
Separation agreements are legally binding contracts that resolve all of the legal issues arising out of a couple separating.However, when or if you do have to go to court, it is likely that the judge will make an order (which will be binding of course) in the terms of your agreement provided:
- the agreement is fair;
- you both worked on the agreement without pressure and entered into it freely;
- it covers all your assets after full disclosure.
The extent to which a judge will stay with the agreement reflects the level of his acceptance of the above three points.
If one of you is in breach of the deed of separation 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 is right.
Note: children arrangements have no legal standing at all. 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, it is likely that he will order that the arrangement should remain undisturbed. It is always worth making arrangements for your children because it is bound to be in their interests to have a secure and firm framework for their lives.
Completing your separation agreement
The agreement is straightforward and easy to complete. You don't need to involve solicitors or go to court.
This deed of separation provides for detailed disclosure, but we do not try to anticipate every asset you may have. You must be very thorough in your disclosure.
Next, you should discuss what you want from the separation. You may need to instruct experts (such as an accountant and/or a surveyor) to value financial and physical joint assets.
This template provides for you to set down your exact arrangements for your children. Although not binding on the Court, your agreement together will reduce the risk of future disagreement, as will all other aspects of your lives.
Separation agreement contents
The document includes paragraphs that cover:
- Details of the parties, including the separation date
- Details of any children, if applicable
- Arrangements for the disposal of the house by sale, or
- An option for one party to keep the matrimonial home and be bought out by the other
- Payment of outgoings such as bills and other expenses – who will pay
- Division of other possessions and household property
- Assignment of insurance policies (you may additionally need: Deed of assignment: life insurance policy or endowment policy)
- Division of business property
- Maintenance payments for the spouse and any children
- Lump sum payments
- Conclusion of joint accounts
- Option for the parties to agree to petition for a divorce after two years separation
- Child maintenance arrangements
- Parental rights arrangements
When you need Separation Agreement Template?
If you are separating from your partner and have come to a mutual agreement in terms of finances and arrangements for any children, you can draw up what is known as a separation agreement or deed of separation. The parties can mutually agree on the terms of the separation and they will be contractually bound by them. In Ireland, separation agreements are helpful in resolving issues between separated couples without going to court. The benefits of having a separation agreement are that it can help avoid costly litigation, provide clarity and certainty during a difficult time, and allow couples to move on with their lives.
In case the parties cannot agree on their separation terms, either party can apply for a decree of judicial separation. In a judicial separation, a court decides on the division of assets and responsibilities.
What a separation agreement should include?
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract that can be used to settle financial and other issues between you and your former partner after you have separated. The agreement can be used to deal with issues such as child custody, child maintenance, spousal maintenance, possession of the family home, division of property and debts, and arrangements for children. You can draw your own separation agreement. Once the agreement is signed, it is legally binding.
Do you need a solicitor to witness this?
The parties can see a family law solicitor if they need legal advice to negotiate an agreement. Ideally then both parties should seek independent legal advice to represent their interest. Otherwise, no requirement by law to get involved a solicitor. We have many happy customers who have used our separation agreement template and recommended us to their friends and family circle.
Is a Separation Agreement legally binding?
A separation agreement signed by both parties is a legally binding contract. Just like usual contracts, the terms agreed between the two people can be legally enforced. Either party can also apply for a decree of judicial separation to formalise the agreement. This is optional. In Ireland, creating a separation agreement without the involvement of a court is often cheaper and less intense.
If you and your spouse don’t initially agree on the terms of your separation, you can pursue mediation to reach an agreement. In Ireland, the Legal Aid Board provides a free Family Mediation Service to help couples negotiate their separation agreement.
Can spouses live in the same house after separation?
Yes, spouses can separate while living under the same roof, same house. A couple may continue living in the same home after their separation for many reasons, including:
- need some time to find a new place
- in the better interest of children
- shortage of finances
What if a partner doesn’t sign a separation agreement?
You can not force the other party to sign it if your partner is not willing to sign this. Such contract will not be enforceable in any court of law and will be set aside.
What happens after a deed of separation is signed?
Once the parties have signed the agreement with their consent, it becomes a legally binding contract. As a result, just like any other contract, either party can sue the other if the agreement is breached.
Related family law documents
Pre-nuptial or pre-marital agreement –allows you to plan how you will divide your current and future wealth between you and your husband, wife or partner should you decide to divorce or separate in the future.
Cohabitation or living together is not a special relationship just people living together. Some cohabitors may view living together as a way to save money, reduce rent and pool incomes. Use this agreement when two people who are neither married nor civil partners.
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