You may want to make a separation agreement if you are in a relationship and thinking about separating or if you were in a previous relationship and have already separated. What you include in your agreement can depend upon your circumstances.
McPartland & Sons Solicitors encourages you to think about some of the topics you may want to include in your separation agreement based on the most common legal questions asked. We always recommend that you and your partner should seek legal advice before signing a separation agreement.
1. How will both parents share responsibilities?
You need to be realistic about your schedules. Juggling parenting duties along with working and other responsibilities isn’t easy, but if parents can work together, it can lighten the load. If you can put a plan in place so that work schedules do not conflict, then this makes it convenient for both parents. Consistency for the child is paramount. If you cannot agree on a schedule for childcare the court can make that decision for you if required.
2. Who pays child maintenance and how much is it?
The parent who does not have the day-to-day care pays child maintenance to the parent or person who does i.e., the ‘receiving parent. An effective maintenance arrangement should be in place even if a parent does not live with their child. Both parents are legally responsible for the financial costs of bringing up their children.
Separated parents can arrange child maintenance:
- privately through a family-based arrangement
- through a Consent Order from a court
- through the Child Maintenance Service (CMS)
You can use the online calculator to find out how much child maintenance you might pay or receive. The calculated amounts are a guide only for parents living apart.
To calculate the cost, you will need the following information:
- the paying parent’s gross weekly income
- the number of children the maintenance is to be paid for
- the number of nights, on average, the paying parent has the child(children) for each year
- the number of other children living in the paying parent’s household
3. What Happens with the family home?
When you divorce or separate, you have a few options about what you do with the family home you live in. The court will aim to divide shared property fairly. The Matrimonial Causes Order sets out the range of powers the court can use when deciding how to split assets.
- ordering the sale of a property
- transferring property from one spouse to the other (or to children)
- transferring property from a joint name to a sole name
- allowing a spouse or child to use the property up to a specified future date
- allowing a spouse or child to stay in the property for life or until a “trigger” event (e.g. when a spouse remarries).
Many couples who divorce or separate have a joint mortgage. They tend to try to sort out the mortgage so that only one partner has their name on it. This will entirely depend on the couple’s financial circumstances.
4. What happens to the property if children still live at home?
The issue of who gets the house when divorce or separation takes place becomes even more complicated when there are children involved. The person considered to be the “primary caregiver”, that is, the person who looks after the children most of the time gets to keep the family home.
5. What happens to your pension entitlement if you separate?
In Northern Ireland there are three ways of dealing with personal or workplace pensions on divorce or dissolutions:
- Off-Set – This allows the pension to remain in tact and stays with the person who earned it. In return, that spouse will forego or accept a reduction in their interest in other matrimonial assets.
- Pension Sharing – the value of the pension is shared between both the divorcing spouses.
- Attachment Order _ This specifies that a pension scheme member’s former spouse is entitled to an agreed or specified percentage of the pension from the point of retirement until they die.
For more advice on legal matters regarding separation agreements please get in touch with one of our expert family lawyers who will be able to provide you will all the support you need.