Separation and Separation Agreements
A number of married couples choose separation as an alternative to divorce in order to determine whether they really want to truly end their marriage or if there is something to salvage. It is common during a trial separation for couples who are willing to try and resolve their marriage issues to go for relationship counselling.
On the other hand, other couples see separation as a way to slowly ease their way into a divorce. This can be done by a couple separating with the intention of later using the two years separation period as the basis for divorce.
Separation does have its restrictions. One such restriction is that both parties to the separation cannot remarry and as a result it becomes difficult to fully move on or possibly start new relationships during this period, particularly if there are financial implications to consider.
However, some couples are content with a separation. If this is the case it is important always to set some ground rules agreeing as to what is acceptable during the separation period and how long such a separation will last before divorce proceedings are issued. Failure to set such ground rules can result in conflict if key issues are not addressed. Such ground rules are set by what is referred to as a separation agreement.
These can also be used when couples who have been living together separate.
One way of describing a separation agreement is a document in which separating couples define how their joint assets and responsibilities will be divided between them. A separation agreement can cover a wide variety of topics including the following:
What is to be done with joint accounts or joint borrowings
What is to happen to the family home
Who is taking responsibility for any debts
The arrangements for any children
Whether it is agreed that divorce proceedings will not be issued until two years have passed
Basically, the separation agreement can cover anything which the separating couple wishes it to.
The agreement is signed by both parties confirming they are accepting it as a legally binding document. If parties later divorce, the terms of the agreement can form the basis of a Consent Order dealing with terms of financial settlement, but the Court does not automatically approve the terms just because there has been a previous separation agreement.