Separation Agreements

A separation agreement regulates how parties wish their finances to be settled upon separation in a formal legal document. A separation agreement does not end a marriage and the divorce process will still be necessary in order to do so in the future.

There are many reasons why individuals may wish to enter into a separation agreement for example;

  1. You have been married for less than one year and it is not possible to issue divorce proceedings yet;
  2. You wish to wait until you have been separated for two years before proceeding with divorce proceedings so that you do not have to use a fault based fact;
  3. You do not wish to obtain a divorce for religious or personal reasons.

Most separated couples entering into a separation agreement are either married or in a civil partnership. Some cohabiting couples may also wish to enter into a separation agreement.

When entering into a separation agreement it is important that the following criteria applies:

  1. Full and frank financial disclosure has been exchanged;
  2. Both parties have entered into the document freely;
  3. Both parties understand the implications of the agreement which is often evidenced by each of them obtaining independent legal advice.

A separation agreement is not wholly legally binding on divorce as the court has the overriding discretion when determining the financial division of assets and income. However, it is used as a persuasive document for the court as to the intentions of both parties when they separated and should therefore be upheld.

When starting the divorce process, any settlement agreement entered into should then be converted into a “consent order” and submitted to the court within the divorce process.

In some cases, either party may wish to revisit what they agreed to within the separation agreement on divorce. This may be because one of the party’s financial circumstances have changed and this would make the arrangements set out in the agreement ‘manifestly unjust’ or the agreement fails to make adequate provisions of any child of the family. It is difficult to predict the future, however in the absence of a divorce and a sealed consent order, setting out the financial arrangements in a separation agreement will demonstrate the parties intention at that time.

Agreeing the terms of a Separation Agreement

  • This can be done directly between the parties. You would then approach a solicitor to draw up the agreement. If it is not very complex and we charge approximately £750 plus VAT for this service;
  • You can attend mediation to discuss the terms of the Separation Agreement and if successful the mediator will draft a Memorandum of Understanding and then a solicitor can draw up the agreement;
  • Your solicitor can negotiate the terms of the Agreement with your former partner’s solicitors. This can get costly and the work will be charged on an hourly rate basis. In some instances you could have a round table meeting to discuss further with both parties’ solicitors present.

Advantages of a Separation Agreement

Allows the potential for reconciliation – as you are not divorced, you and your former partner can decide to reconcile should you choose to do so;

Halfway house –you have taken the view the marriage has broken down, but you are not emotionally ready to apply for a divorce;

You have the ability to retain the benefits which are lost upon divorce – i.e. medical insurance, life insurance and pensions which cease when divorce proceedings are finalised. The benefits often remain intact where you have separated;

Supports co-operation – reaching an agreement by way of a separation agreement demonstrates the parties’ willingness to co-operate and mutually agree on how to proceed following the separation and how to bring up the children;

Allows a level of certainty – parties are able to agree on the finances at the point of separation and include provisions about how the finances should be divided if divorce proceedings are issued. This can save the uncertainty and can save time;

Flexibility – the agreement can include provisions beyond the scope of the court’s jurisdiction which makes it flexible;

Protection of assets – a party can include provisions to protect certain assets including:

  • Inherited wealth;
  • Interest in a family business;
  • Gifts received from a third party;
  • Family heirlooms;
  • Property owned before the marriage.

The agreement includes financial disclosure – financial disclosure is included in the separation agreement which shows the parties’ financial situation at the time of separation;

The agreement can provide for debt protection – it can include provisions as to who is liable for which debts and the assets of the parties can be protected from being used to settle the debts;

Protection of family members – the agreement can protect financial interests of family members by ring-fencing certain assets in the agreement;

Family business – If one party has an interest in a business they can protect that interest and prevent disruption to the business;

Minimises acrimony on divorce – agreeing how the assets should be divided can lead to fewer disputes regarding finances on divorce;

Inheritance prospects of family members – children’s inheritance can be protected in the agreement;

Quicker – a separation agreement can be drawn up quickly rather than divorce proceedings which can take 8-10 months.

Disadvantages of a Separation Agreement

Uncertainty – the agreement cannot exclude the court’s jurisdiction to determine the finances upon divorce;

Inability to achieve a clean break- this can only be achieved when a Consent Order is agreed and submitted to court to be sealed once Decree Nisi is pronounced within divorce proceedings;

May penalise economically weaker party – the weaker party may feel pressured into accepting less beneficial terms than they may have obtained in financial remedy proceedings on divorce;

Change in circumstances – If there is a change in circumstances from the date of the separation agreement to the date of the divorce then the terms agreed in the Separation Agreement can be reviewed upon the start of financial remedy proceedings;

Child Maintenance – Clauses in the agreement referring to child maintenance will always be subject to review;

Inability to remarry – The parties have the inability to remarry if they embark on a new relationship as the parties remain legally married which can lead to bad feelings between the parties;

Inheritance – If the agreement does not include provision for inheritance rights or if one party has agreed to waive their inheritance rights and their spouse dies while they are still married (and their spouse did not provide properly for them in a will) they may be in a precarious financial position depending on the terms of the separation agreement;

Variation – If one party tries to vary the terms of the agreement and subsequently there are contested financial remedy proceedings the legal fees spent in drafting and negotiating the terms of the agreement may prove wasted.

Contact Sarah

What Our Clients Say About Our Family Law Services

Laura Clapton has been brilliant and very professional through the Mediation process. I highly recommend her.

Jen Huggett

Absolutely five star service from Laura Clapton and her team, always kept informed of progress, and Laura was always available on the end of the phone to answer any questions. Highly recommended, thank you Consilia Legal.

Jane C

Professional and personal. Vicky was very caring and listened to my issue, advice was clear and easy to understand. Vicky ensured my mind was at ease and I knew my options. Excellent service. Sarah really knows the family sector, she puts you at ease instantly and ensures you are aware of all the options. Would definitely recommend this service. Thank you for your help.

Catherine White

Vicky guided me through the legal context of an employment and was very efficent, approachable and supportive. I would highly recommend this company and Vicky to others who need legal support and advice. Many thanks.

Maureen Sheridan

Had a great experience working with Victoria. Felt completely comfortable asking all kinds of questions and she always explained them really well.

Julia Mariani

I often get clients asking if I can assist with employment and family matters. As this is not my area of specialism I am conscious to help assist by passing them onto a trusted source who will look after the client in the best manner possible and with the same approach and ethos as myself. For employment and family matters I recommend to Consilia Legal as they contact the client promptly and provide practical no nonsense advice at a great value. I have no hesitation in recommending their services and will continue to direct my clients to them for this type of legal advice.

John Bailes

What our clients say about Consilia Legal on

  • review rating 5  Excellent personal support, advice and understanding from Marie, Emma and the Team, thanks for all you have done. Highly recommended

    thumb Ian Reed
  • review rating 5  Victoria Horner offered me employment law advice over the telephone and via email which was impartial but ultimately a game changer in the redundancy situation I found myself in with my employer. Victoria’s advice was instrumental in allowing me to negotiate redundancy and meant I was fully abreast of the law when having conversations with my employer. Victoria presented to me options which I have not yet considered or been made aware of a being entitled to which placed me in a stronger position when in dialogue with the HR department I was dealing with. This made me feel more empowered and gave me back some control during a very unsettling and confidence eroding time. Thank you Victoria.

    thumb Sarah De Biase
  • review rating 5  I recently needed legal help with a settlement agreement post a redundancy. I have never had the need to use a solicitor's services before. Going by the great reviews on Consilia I decided to give their services a go. I had the pleasure to be attended by Emma Cartlidge and she made the experience simple and easy. The offer was reviewed and amended with precision and I needn't worry about anything. I would recommend Consilia to anyone nervous about using legal services and in need of employment law advice.

    thumb mszkamio .
  • review rating 5  Professional, swift responses and detailed answered. Received THE BEST customer service from Andy Boyle at Consilia. Definitely Recomendd!

    thumb Arooj Iqbal
  • review rating 5  I was most impressed with the speed and efficiency which Andy Boyde at Consilia Legal handled my case. I selected Consilia Legal after reviewing previous feedback which had positive comments regarding the areas I was interested in. The way my case was handled turned a stressful situation into a quick and stress free process. I would have no hesitation in recommending Consilia Legal.

    thumb Craig S
  • review rating 5  I dealt with Vicky at Consilia Legal and I couldn't thank her and the team enough. Very fast and efficient and will go out of her way to help in anyway possible. Would recommend over and over again. Thank you

    thumb Lauren Clark
  • review rating 5  Marie and her staff have been very helpful. Marie had assisted me previously with an employment law issues so I had no hesitation in engaging her again. She helped me through an unpleasant job related matter when I was at a low ebb and feeling unable to fight my own corner. As before Marie gave sound, straight forward advice and took over the handling of communication with my employer until the matter was resolved. When I had to take action myself Marie was always there to consult if I was worried about something. I would thoroughly recommend Consilia Legal to anyone.

    thumb Amanda Keers

Latest articles

can i be made to sell my business in divorce?

Can I be made to sell my business on divorce?

Where either or both parties to a divorce have an interest in a business, this will often bear relevance to the division of assets between...
divorce day

Divorce Day or Mediation Monday?

  Open a newspaper in January and you’ll no doubt see a lot of articles about divorce with the use of punchy headlines such as...


TUPE UPDATE You may have seen some updates recently regarding TUPE and whether this applies to workers. By way of brief recap, the Transfer of...


4 Park Place,
West Yorkshire,

 0113 322 9222

Get In Touch


(By Appointment Only)

Windsor House,
Cornwall Road,

 01423 222 220

Got a question?
Get in touch!