The decision to separate is an incredibly difficult one. Unfortunately, once such an important decision has been made, many other matters need to be organised and agreed upon, such as who will live in or own the family home, how joint finances will be divided and how children will be cared, and provided, for. While deciding such matters is often hard, it’s possible to get peace of mind once an agreement is reached by setting out what is decided in a formal legal document called a separation agreement. Should divorce or dissolution follow, separation agreements can also help keep legal costs down by avoiding length court proceedings.
At the Glasgow Law Practice, our family law solicitors understand that separation or divorce is a life-changing situation for our clients. We are committed to providing the best possible advice, aimed at helping them to sort and deal with all the issues; making sure they’re fully informed when making important decisions about their own and their family’s future. Below we provide a general overview of separation agreements in Scotland. If you would like to know more about separation and how we can assist you, please contact our friendly team for a confidential, no obligation chat.
What is a separation agreement?
A separation agreement is a formal legal document, sometimes referred to as a minute of agreement, that sets out how a separated couple’s affairs are to be organised and managed. Rather than arguing matters in court so that a judge can make a decision on their behalf, separation agreements allow a couple to maintain control by agreeing what happens when they stop living together. They can be entered into once the decision to separate has been made, during separation or before divorce or dissolution are finalised.
Once the terms of a separation agreement are negotiated and agreed between the separating couple, their solicitors will draft and register the document. Once registered, the document has the same force as a court order and its terms can therefore be enforced in a similar way – this means that if either party breaches the terms, they will face legal consequences.
What is contained in a separation agreement?
Exactly what is contained in a separation agreement depends on the circumstances, but generally they include terms setting out how the couple will live separately, such as:
- What will happen to the family home, such as who will continue to live there or what happens if it is sold, and other jointly bought or owned assets, such as furniture or cars;
- Financial considerations, including how household expenses such as the mortgage/rent and bills will be paid, what will happen to financial assets and any debts, and if there are to be any maintenance payments, how much and how these will be provided;
- Childcare arrangements, such as where children will live, how much child support will be paid and how contact will be managed and maintained with the non-resident parent and any other family members.
How is a separation agreement agreed?
The terms of a separation agreement, i.e. how property and responsibilities will be divided, are negotiated between the separating couple until they reach a mutually acceptable agreement. At the Glasgow Law Practice, our family law team are experts in dispute resolution. This means that we are expert mediators and negotiators in family matters, who aim to help our clients get the best possible outcome through non-adversarial means. We regularly help our clients to negotiate the terms of a separation agreement, ensuring what is agreed between the couple is in their best interests.
Do I need separation agreement legal advice?
It’s not a legal requirement to get legal advice when agreeing a separation agreement, but it’s certainly more prudent to do so, particularly if one party has more wealth or where the break-up is acrimonious. A specialist family law solicitor will keep you informed of you and your former partner’s legal rights and responsibilities. They will also be able to guide you through the negotiation process using non-adversarial methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation.
For a separation agreement to be legally binding, a written document detailing what has been agreed must be drafted and then registered. An expert family law solicitor will ensure this is done in full accordance with the legal requirements. More importantly, they will be able to ensure that the terms agreed are fair and reasonable. If the terms are unfair or unreasonable an existing separation agreement, the agreement can be challenged in the courts. If there is a change in circumstances a further separation agreement can be negotiated to take into account the new circumstances.
At the Glasgow Law Practice, our family law solicitors ensure that rights and responsibilities are properly taken into consideration and reflected in separation agreements. Just as no two families are the same, each particular case will have its own unique set of circumstances. We take pride in providing legal advice tailored to our clients’ needs and aims, handling each case with skill, care and sensitivity from start to finish.
Glasgow Law Practice - Expert Separation Agreement Lawyers Scotland
If you would like more information about separation agreements, please contact us. Our family law solicitors are experts in the negotiation and drafting of separation agreements, and also have extensive experience of dealing with all types of cases, from divorce and maintenance to cohabitation rights and civil partnerships. Contact our specialist Family Law Team today on 0141 413 4289 for a confidential, no obligation chat.