Is a Separation Agreement Legally Binding?
Couples with some difficulties in their marriage may decide to spend a few days or weeks apart to give themselves some physical and emotional distance. It can be helpful when there are arguments or tension to take a step back and evaluation the relationship. From there, couples decide whether they want to be separated for a longer period of time or whether they want to work on the marriage while living together.
Most couples contemplate a trial separation as practice before divorce. It's often like a trial divorce and should be treated with the same legal seriousness of a divorce. Instead of a divorce decree before a judge, there are other agreements and legal documents.
What is a separation agreement?
After living apart for a few weeks, the couple decides to make the separation longer, perhaps indefinitely while they further evaluate the relationship. Whatever the reason for the separation, the couple may not be ready to start divorce proceedings. There could be emotional or financial issues that prevent a divorce.
Living in two different homes, paying two sets of bills and incurring debt is still a joint venture. One half of the couple could be racking up debt while the other is clueless. That doesn't mean that the blameless spouse is off the hook for the debt. Married couples without a separation agreement are still held responsible for joint debt.
At the start of the separation, an agreement should be made between the two parties that covers bills, child support, credit card debt and division of assets. Sometimes couples can be separated for months or years, and as time goes on, the separation could cause the couple to become more alienated. Details like distribution of assets are important and should be handled fairly early to decrease the likelihood of court proceedings later.
Is a separation agreement legally binding?
Yes, separation agreements are generally legally binding if there has been full disclosure of all income and assets and both parties have entered into the separation agreement with no duress.
The court in England and Wales has to take any prior agreement into account in the event of a dispute, so if one party decides they do not want to honour the terms of the agreement, they can ask the court to uphold the agreement. It would be for the opposing party to argue why the agreement should not be upheld.
If you would like more information about separation agreements call 01793 384 032 for impartial and friendly advice.