Separation Agreements for Couples Living in the Same House
16 February 2017
In the eyes of the law you must maintain separate households. This is the legal way of saying that you must lead separate lives, despite the fact you are living under the same roof. In order to comply with the legal definition, you must no longer share the day to day activities of the household, such as:
- Share a bedroom
- Share food shopping
- Cook for each other
- Eat meals together
- Do each other's laundry
The same is true if you are living together and you plan to get a divorce. In these cases, the Court will want to see that you are maintaining separate households before granting a Decree Nisi.
What is a Separation Agreement?
A Separation Agreement sets out the arrangements you and your ex-partner have made regarding money, property and child care. It can include things such as how you are going to divide any savings, who the children will live with and what will happen to the family home.
Some couples want to get a divorce immediately. For those who do a Separation Agreement will not be necessary.
However, some people do not want to start divorce proceedings straight away. This could be for any number of reasons, such as being unable to afford separate households, or wanting to rely on two years' separation when getting a divorce. Alternatively there may be a property that has fallen into negative equity, making it necessary to delay the divorce until the housing market picks up.
In the meantime, you and your ex-partner need to make important decisions about your finances, property and children. Even if you are still living together, you need to figure out issues such as who is going to pay the bills, who will stay in the family home when the divorce does go through, and even which rooms each person is allowed to use while you live together in the same house.
When you reach an understanding, you can formally record your arrangement in writing with a Separation Agreement. It's helpful to think of it as an interim agreement, so that when you do get a divorce it will be mirrored in the Divorce Financial Settlement.
Protects Your Best Interests
A Separation Agreement is not legally binding but if you do start divorce proceedings the Court will consider the arrangement you have previously agreed to. Therefore it's important to ensure a Separation Agreement protects your best interests, or you could run into difficulties in the future.
If you have separated from your spouse but you are not yet ready to get a divorce, our Family & Divorce Solicitors can help you. We can draft a Separation Agreement that confirms the arrangements you have made, ranging from who will keep the pet dog to the division of mutual debts.
If you are separated but living together in the same house, we can advise you on how to maintain separate households, and the implications this might have if you do decide to divorce in the future.