When you agree a financial settlement, you need to make it legally 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 “rules” 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. It needs to be fair (in line with what the court considers reasonable) and you both need to provide financial disclosure. These aren’t hard and fast rules, and this is why it is important to take specialist advice.