There are various types of legal agreements that can have been entered into. Here you can find some information about the most common:
A Pre-Nuptial Agreement will set out what is intended for a marriage or civil partnerships finances if the relationship breaks down. There are certain conditions which have to be satisfied which include the following:
- There must be full disclosure of the financial information of both you and your intended spouse;
- The agreement must be fair to you both;
- You must have both taken independent legal advice on your positions before the agreement is signed;
- It must not be entered into under pressure;
- It must obviously be signed before the marriage or Civil Partnership.
If the marriage or partnership subsequently breaks down then a properly prepared pre-nuptial agreement is an increasingly important factor for any court to take into consideration. It is not actually binding on a court although, where the above requirements are met, it is highly likely that it will be upheld.
These are very similar to the above but is entered into after the marriage or civil partnership.
Couple who simply live together are often known as ‘Cohabitees’. They may legally regulate their financial and property arrangements by making a written agreement. This may seem rather unromantic and overly formal, but failing to consider the issues at this stage may result in some important matters being overlooked. Even if you do not want to enter into a formal agreement, it is advisable to consider your situation at or near the start of any cohabitation.
The process of considering what might go into a cohabitation agreement can often clarify any ownership issues and financial obligations in a way that can be beneficial to the relationship. It may avoid misunderstandings, and consequently avoid much distress and complication later. Many of the issues arising from the breakdown of arrangements where couples live together could be minimised or avoided by taking advice in the early stages of a relationship.
A cohabitation agreement may be particularly relevant if you have previously been married, or involved in another relationship, and you wish to ensure that your assets are safeguarded for your children or other family members as well as making relevant provision for your cohabitee.
There are sometimes situations where a relationship breaks down but a couple do not wish to take the big step of obtaining a divorce or dissolving a civil partnership. It may be appropriate in these circumstances for you and your spouse/partner to enter into a separation agreement. This may include provision for such things as:
- An application for divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership being made once you have lived apart for more than 2 years and to conform that the other person will consent to this;
- To confirm the arrangements for any children;
- To show how financial and property issues are to be agreed and to confirm that it is intended for a court to make orders in such terms at a later date.
The terms agreed between couples cannot be binding on a court although, if the Agreement satisfies certain conditions, it is likely that it will be approved. These requirements are much the same as for pre-nuptial agreement in that the terms must be fair, there must have been full disclosure of the financial information and there must be no undue pressure placed on either person.
A well prepared separation agreement can ensure that, when an application is subsequently made for divorce or to dissolve a civil partnership, there other arrangements are resolved very smoothly which will benefit both adults and particularly any children.