Once an agreement is reached this should be put into a formal document to ensure that the terms of the agreement are clear, fully understood by both of you and will protect each of you from possible further claims in the future.
If there is a divorce or other financial proceedings, the agreement can be approved by the court and an order made in the terms of the agreement. If there are no proceedings a Deed of Agreement (often referred to as a Separation Agreement) can be prepared.
You must have expert legal advice on any financial agreement you reach to ensure that:
- The terms are fair and appropriate to your circumstances. Even if you are content with the proposed terms, the agreement is reached at a time when you are emotionally vulnerable and we can look at the situation more objectively and consider the effect of the terms and any potential pitfalls.
- The terms of the proposed agreement can be enforced in the event that there is any problem with carrying it into effect.
- The Deed or Order closes off all future potential claims, unless it is necessary to keep any claims ongoing – such as spousal maintenance.
It is preferable for both of you to have representation from separate solicitors when the agreement is being drawn up. You both need to be sure you understand the effect of the terms and that the agreement works for both of you. If one person later feels that they have been treated unfairly or taken advantage of it can lead to resentment.
We always suggest exchanging financial information and, if there is a property, we check the title. The reasons for this are:
- Even if you think that you are both clear about your financial circumstances, there can be things that are overlooked which we can pick up on – such as an unused joint account, a debt in joint names, an old pension fund which has been forgotten. These all need to be included to avoid issues later.
- There may be problems with implementing the terms of the agreement because of issues you were not aware could be a problem, such as mortgage arrears, a debt which has been repaid but remains on the title to the property, or restrictions on being able to share a pension fund.
- In some cases one person can be pretending to be in a worse financial position than they really are and by going through the financial disclosure we can usually identify where there may be additional assets or income which has not as yet been disclosed.
It is essential, even in cases which seem to involve the most straightforward of agreements, to take legal advice and exchange financial information. Investing in getting good legal advice will ensure that you are moving forward into your future secure in the knowledge that your financial arrangements have been resolved properly and in the best way possible for you. It may seem an unnecessary expense at the time but it will save you far more expense in the longer term and may avoid several years of worry.
You can trust Harrogate Family Law to help you. We will be thorough to ensure that you can move forward with confidence that your financial arrangements are the best they can be.
If you need help with your divorce contact us on 01423 594680.
Andrew Meehan is an experienced family lawyer specialising in complex divorces involving significant or hidden assets, as well as cases involving children.
He is recommended for family law by both Chambers 2018 (York, Hull and surrounding regions) and the Legal 500 2017 (Leeds/West Yorkshire and North Yorkshire region).
Everyone’s circumstances are different and this article is provided by way of general information only and must not be replied upon. If you require legal advice on a family law issue, please feel free to contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.