When a decision has been made as to how to resolve financial issues when a relationship ends, those arrangements must be made binding. This is usually done in one of two ways – by court order, or a separation agreement. Court orders are usually only available if there are divorce proceedings, and some couples prefer to resolve financial matters when they separate, and to divorce later on. In these cases a separation agreement may be appropriate. A separation agreement is simply a contract specifying the terms of the financial settlement.
The courts have laid down certain formalities which should be complied with, to ensure separation agreements will be upheld. For example, if the court feels that one person was denied the opportunity to take legal advice and was pressured into signing the deed, it will not be binding. For this reason it is important to receive sound and reliable advice, to avoid the risk of further litigation in the future.