Separation agreements—client guide
Separation agreements—client guide

The following Family guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Separation agreements—client guide
  • What is a separation agreement?
  • Why enter into a separation agreement?
  • Are separation agreements binding on the court?
  • What will make a separation agreement more likely to be binding?
  • What can a separation agreement include?
  • What happens if we have children?
  • How do international elements affect a separation agreement?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of a separation agreement?
  • What will happen if one party no longer wishes to be bound by the terms of a separation agreement?

This document provides general guidance regarding separation agreements. Your family lawyer will be able to provide specific advice based on your circumstances.

What is a separation agreement?

People who are already married or in a civil partnership can enter into a written agreement setting out what they intend to happen to their money, property and other practical issues as a consequence of their current or planned separation. This written agreement is called a separation agreement. Separation agreements are usually entered into by parties who are separating, but who do not want to divorce or dissolve their civil partnership at that time, perhaps for religious or practical reasons. The legal rules about these agreements come from the usual laws that apply to divorce, and also a decision of the Supreme Court in 2010 (Radmacher v Granatino) where the court said: ‘The court should give effect to a nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party with a full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement’.

A separation agreement is a contractual agreement between the parties to a marriage or civil partnership dealing with:

  1. your agreement to live apart

  2. your obligations to maintain one another and any children