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What's a Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement is not a divorce. This tends to confuse people when they talk about it. A judicial separation is merely an order of court which dissolves the obligations or benefits brought on by a marriage. The more common forms however of a separation agreement without any court intervention is whereby the parties agree beforehand about any financial agreements, the children and the planned divorce. This agreement is binding on both parties until the divorce commences during which time the parties can ask for the courts to make an order confirming the terms of the separation agreement.

There are many organisations in London and Wales who belong to the United Kingdom College of Family Mediators. With a mediator in place you and your spouse can proceed to contact your solicitors and begin the process of the separation agreement. The agreement is rather simple and not very complex in nature. It identifies the parties to the agreement and confirms that both parties have taken legal advice on the matter. Both parties will agree that the marriage has broken down irretrievably and that they are planning their divorce. It is important not to attribute blame during the agreement though.

Child custody is very important and both parties would need to find middle ground in order for it to work. Decide with whom the children will live during the term of the agreement and depending on the childrenís age, at which age they can decide for themselves with which parent they would want to live with. Also agree beforehand on the visitation hours and days which the other party can visit the children and access to the children on public holidays, birthdays and school vacations. Remember if your children live with you, you can claim income support or a Jobseekers allowance from the Child Support Agency. Also contact the Inland Revenue Tax Credit office to inform them of your separation agreement and your current status as you can also claim Child Tax Credit.

Decide on who pays for the school and any extra mural activities that they may take part in, Should both parents still reside in the same location the children will stay in the same school, however if one parent moves out of the area, decide before hand, what will happen to the childrenís schooling. More importantly, include a clause which will state that should one of the parents die, the other will have full custody of the children and the children will reside with that parent at the discretion of the parent. In the event that both parties die, choose custodians for your children beforehand.

Child support needs to be discussed. Not only the monthly payments but also on which parentís medical plan or insurance plan the children will go. With children this is very important as they will always need dentist visits for braces and other medical services.

Property division can be a stalling point for many. Most divorces are defended on the bases of property. The best idea is to decide how the property gets divided. Each party makes a list of goods they want, be it because they use it most often or that it might have sentimental value to them. Once each party had drafted a list of what they require from the joint property. Exchange lists and see what concessions need to be made. The remainder of the property you can then divided down the middle or sold off to raise money which can then be divided. Make a list of who gets what and attach it to your separation agreement.

Last but not least is the issue of the home you live in. Who will make the mortgage or bond payments and what will happen to this property after the divorce. You might decide that the children may live in it until you are divorced after which it will be sold and the money divided equally.

A separation agreement has a softer tone that that of a divorce. Both parties still interact with each other and this normally makes for an undefended and easier divorce. It also provides the children with time to adjust to the new arrangements without any anger from any of the parents.

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