Nobody enters a marriage intending for it to fall apart.
However, life happens and more and more marriages are ending.
Marriage no longer means necessarily a lifetime together.
Now it is possible for married couples to separate or divorce and in time to marry again.
When a marriage breaks down the couples often informally “split up” and move apart. Most couples do not wish to jump right into a formal separation agreement.
Once it is clear that they will not be getting back together, a couple will usually try to get a legally binding separation agreement put in place as soon as possible in order to move on with their own individual lives.
Remaining married while living apart can be hard on both parties and leads to issues concerning the family home, custody of children, joint bank accounts, and many more.
A separation agreement can help this situation.
A separation agreement is a contract agreed to by a couple who are splitting up. The couple come to the agreement with the help of a mediator or a solicitor. Terms are usually agreed in relation to issues which usually cause disputes on splitting up such as custody of children, the payment of maintenance to one spouse, who will remain in the family home or will it be sold, etc.
If a couple is considering a separation agreement it is advisable to engage in mediation. A mediator is a neutral person whose function is to keep discussions and negotiations civil and fair. Both parties to mediation should get independent legal advice before entering into mediation for a separation agreement and particularly before signing the agreement.
Equally, it is possible to engage solicitors to negotiate a separation agreement. This is advisable especially where the marital breakdown is unfriendly.
Whatever way the parties come to a separation agreement, when they have come to an agreement they must sign the separation agreement which is commonly called a Deed of Separation.
This is legally binding. However, it is possible to have the effect of the separation agreement reversed if the parties get back together. It would be necessary to apply to court to cancel the Deed of Separation and the parties would have to prove to the judge that they have reconciled and that they want to live together as husband and wife again.
Karen Walsh, specialises in conveyancing and is a solicitor practicing in Walsh & Partners, Solicitors and Commissioners for Oaths, 17, South Mall, Cork.
Disclaimer: While every care is taken to ensure accuracy of information contained in this article, Solicitor Karen Walsh does not accept responsibility for errors or omissions howsoever arising, and you should seek legal advice in relation to your particular circumstances at the earliest possible time.