Legal Separation by Agreement
Where both parties can communicate well enough to come to agreement about what they want for their family, this considered best. It is generally less acrimonious, less stressful for everyone involved, and less expensive.Agreement can be reached through mediation, or, if this is not possible for some reason, through correspondence using solicitors. Mediation is considered to be particularly helpful for making arrangements for parenting and for drawing up parenting plans.
See our section on Mediation for more information on how that works.
Once agreement is reached on the main areas, the solicitors will write up a separation agreement which is a legally binding contract. The actual document is called a Deed of Separation. The main issues covered in a deed of separation are:
- Agreement to live apart;
- Agreed arrangements about custody and access to children[insert link] (where they will live and when the parents will spend time with them);
- Ownership and occupation of the family home, where it is owned or mortgaged, and any other property;
- Maintenance payments, and any division of shared assets and monies[insert link] where they exist;
- Indemnity from any debt of the other spouse/civil partner – this means that neither party can be held responsible for any debts the other person may incur after the separation.
- How any pensions are to be managed;
- Succession or inheritance rights, and
Making the Separation Agreement Enforceable
The separation agreement can be made a Rule of Court by applying to the court. This means that if the parties to the agreement do not abide by it, they can be taken to court to have any part of the agreement enforced. Information on making a separation agreement a rule of court is available on the Courts Service website.
How a mediated separation becomes a legal arrangement
Once agreement is reached on the main areas, the mediator will provide a report detailing the agreed items. This report is then taken by each party to their solicitor and forms the basis for athe Deed of Separation which can be made into a Rule of Court which is legally binding on both sides.