13 December 2021

Mistakes to avoid when negotiating a separation agreement

When you decide to separate from your partner, there are various practicalities that you will need to work out between you. Even if you are unsure whether you will divorce or dissolve your civil partnership, you will need certainly need to think about matters such as:

  • Where each of you will live
  • Arrangements for any children you have together (such as where they will live and how often they will see each parent)
  • How your money and assets will be divided
  • Whether both parties can afford to pay their bills if they live separately

A separation agreement is a document which is used to set out the terms of your separation, addressing matters such as those listed above. However, negotiating a separation agreement can be challenging, particularly at a highly emotional time for you and your family. In this article, we look at some of the most common mistakes made when going through the process of negotiating a separation agreement so that you know what to avoid.

Feeling pressured into an agreement

In many cases, parties can feel pressured into agreeing to terms they are unsure about in order to ‘get it done’. In family relationships, people can often put their emotions before their practical and financial needs, which can cause problems in the future. In this situation, having a Lawyer to represent you can be useful. A Lawyer will listen to you and what you want to achieve from the agreement and negotiate the terms on your behalf with your best interests in mind.

Failing to consider the longer-term implications

Although a separation agreement itself is not legally binding, when you enter financial proceedings if and when you do decide to divorce, a Court will consider your previous agreement and the arrangements contained therein. Therefore, it is important that you do not view the terms of the agreement only as an interim arrangement, and that you also consider the long-term implications for you and your family when negotiating the terms of a separation agreement.

Make the agreement ‘formal’

Whilst it may be simple to come to an informal agreement with your partner as to the arrangements upon separation, if you want to protect your arrangement, you should take steps to ensure that it is formalised in order to give it more weight when being considered by a Judge if you do go on to divorce. A Judge will typically uphold the terms of a separation agreement when the agreement is fair, both parties fully understood what they were agreeing to (have each received independent legal advice), and the document has been prepared by a Solicitor.

Making financial commitments before the agreement is settled

Separation inevitably involves a lot of change. However, we would suggest waiting until the terms of the separation are clear (and formalised) before committing to a new rental agreement, mortgage, car finance or any other substantial financial commitment. Whilst your partner may have verbally committed to a financial arrangement, this could be very different to what is recorded within in the formal separation agreement.

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