The Office for National Statistics has recently published data which suggest that the number of couples divorcing has reduced 34% since 2003. This could be down to a number of factors however even though divorce may not be a priority, separating couples usually want to resolve financial matters swiftly.
When people marry, their finances become inextricably linked. It is often the case that spouses become reliant upon each other and their joint income and assets. It follows that if a married couple separate, there are many financial issues which need to be resolved. It is hoped that couples are able to agree what should happen. If not, there are numerous ways in which those issues can be resolved from mediation to arbitration and, if all else fails applying to court.
However, an application can only be made to court for a court order finalising financial matters if one of the parties issues a petition for divorce. So what are the options if the couple do not want to divorce but do wish to resolve their finances?
If there are issues which cannot be agreed, a couple can still take advantage of the various methods of dispute resolution such as negotiation and mediation even though divorce proceedings are not contemplated.
As long as an agreement can be reached, the parties can enter into a separation agreement, also known as a separation deed. A separation deed is an agreement which is signed and witnessed and which sets out what the parties agree should happen with their assets, pension provision and income. The document makes clear the parties’ intention that the agreement is full and final. It can deal with how any future divorce should be dealt with including who will issue a divorce petition at court.
The agreement then goes on to clarify that if there are future divorce proceedings, neither party will ask the court to make an order providing anything other than what is contained in the separation deed.
Although a separation deed cannot prevent an application being made to court it shows that there has been a clear agreement reached and that the parties intended it to be binding upon them in the future. If there were any court proceedings as a result of one party seeking something not provided for in the agreement it would usually be the case that the separation deed would carry a lot of weight in those proceedings.
If you do need to resolve finances following a separation but without divorce then a separation deed may be the solution.
If you require legal advice about separation deeds or any other matter relating to your divorce or separation, speak to our divorce solicitors at Farleys on 0845 287 0939 or send your enquiry through our online contact form.