Unless specified, this information relates only to England and Wales. If you live in Scotland, go to Parenting across Scotland for information and advice. If you live in Northern Ireland, go to NI direct.

Working out your own separation agreement is the best way to move forward after separation. It can be quicker and easier than court proceedings.

If you need professional help making a separation agreement but want to avoid court, a family mediator can help structure your discussions and help both partners reach an agreement that suits everyone.

A solicitor could also help you negotiate with your ex, or as a last resort, your case may need to go to court.

Once you’ve both agreed on how things will work out when you split up, you may decide that an informal arrangement is enough. Alternatively, you might want to have what you’ve agreed set out in a formal way.

If you went through family mediation or other dispute resolution, this would be done with a Memorandum of Understanding, which the professional working with you would draw up for you to check.

If you wish, a solicitor can advise you on the separation agreement you make between yourselves or the Memorandum of Understanding you’ve made and tell you if your separation agreement is legally binding, or how to make it legally binding. If you have valuable assets, you may want to talk to a solicitor before you sign it.

If you have made the agreement just between yourselves, your solicitors can draw up an agreement of what you’ve all decided – without necessarily going to court.

If you’ve agreed arrangements about how to split financial assets – whether between yourselves or with a Memorandum of Understanding – but you think it might still be possible that your ex could raise the issue again in the future, you can go to court to make the separation agreement legally binding-as a ‘consent order’. This means you can ask the court to enforce the order at a later date if one of you doesn’t stick to what has been agreed.

  • a court can make and enforce an order which legally binds you and your ex to arrangements, but it can be time consuming
  • formal arrangements made in court could be more difficult to change
  • when looking at the upbringing of a child, the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration.

You can find more information by accessing these webpages:

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