Divorce vs. Deed of Separation

How does a Divorce differ from a Deed of Separation?

In order to end a marriage legally, you must go through the process of divorce. However, sometimes you might not yet be ready for a divorce and may wish to try living apart from each other instead. In this situation, you can use a written Separation Agreement. This is a contract in law that the couple use to record how they have agreed to separate, and how the divorce should be carried out.

The date when parties began living apart is recorded in the Deed of Separation, so often the divorce will be based on that ground of separation.

What terms should be included in a Deed of Separation?

The terms of agreement on issues such as the following should be noted in the Deed of Separation:

  • The reason the divorce is taking place
  • When the divorce proceedings will begin
  • Who will begin the divorce proceedings
  • If children are involved, how care, custody and control duties have been arranged
  • How the marital assets should be dealt with whilst the divorce is happening
  • Any interim arrangement that the parties made until the beginning or conclusion of the divorce proceedings
  • Any spousal or child maintenance agreements.

Divorce papers still need to be filed

To be effective, both parties to the marriage have to sign the Deed of Separation.

Remember that simply signing a Deed of Separation does not mean that the divorce has happened – you still need to file for divorce. This is because a Deed of Separation is not filed with a court, so even though the parties have signed it, the court and any relevant government departments will not be made aware of it.

When is a Deed of Separation most useful for me?

You’ll find the deed most useful when:

  • You want to separate from your partner, but you have young children or financial issues which makes it a bad time to get a divorce.
  • You’re not sure if a divorce it what you want, but you wish to try living apart from your spouse.
  • You don’t fulfil the other criteria for getting a divorce (the grounds of adultery or unreasonable behaviour), and both of you agree that the marriage was a mistake.

Please contact us if you have any questions about Deeds of Separation, or you need help.

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