There are circumstances for some couples where a physical separation feels appropriate but there is no desire to follow a legally recognised route to formally end the relationship. So, for instance, you may find yourself in one of the following situations:
- You are married, and have now separated. The separation may be a trial period pending counselling and a possible reconciliation, or it may already be very clear to you and your partner that the relationship is at an end. However, rather than commence divorce proceedings now which would require one of you to allege fault against the other, you have agreed to wait and then commence a divorce petition on the basis that you have been separated for two years and you both consent to the divorce.If this situation is one you recognise then you should give some thought to agreeing the terms of the separation, such as who will be paying existing mortgages or rent, how maintenance for the children will be dealt with and what is to happen should one of you lose employment or fall ill during the years of separation. This can be addressed in a deed of separation. This is a form of contract and brings clarity to how you will manage finances whilst you are both waiting to divorce. A deed of separation does in some circumstances have its drawbacks but we can explore that with you.
- You are in a civil partnership and wish to separate. As in the divorce example above you do not wish to consider a formal dissolution of the civil partnership yet. A deed of separation is also an option open to you.
- You cohabit with your partner. You may have been cohabiting for a significant period of years and perhaps own property or even several properties together. You have decided to separate but need help to work out what to do with the properties. One of you may be financially dependent upon the other for income. You may also have dependant children. Because there is no overarching statute dealing with the financial claims that may or should exist between cohabiting couples who then separate, the law is unfortunately a bit of a mess. One way of making sense of your respective responsibilities after the breakup of the relationship is to have a Deed of Separation. The deed can deal with a whole range of financial options for you and be complemented by declarations of trust to deal with any property interests.