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FAQs on Separation

What is a separation agreement?

A separation agreement is a document recording the agreement reached when two individuals in a relationship decide to separate. It is not binding in the same way as a Court Order. It is a heavily persuasive document and a clear statement of intent for both parties. For married couples it is used where parties wish to separate and put in place financial arrangements with a view to divorcing in the future and incorporating those arrangements into a Court Order at that time. For cohabiting couples it is used to record the parties intentions and agreements as to how to deal with joint assets to make separation as straightforward and clear as possible without the need for Court proceedings.

Can I change the locks if my ex-partner has left me?

Despite a breakdown in your relationship, both of you have a right to access and to occupy a jointly owned property. If only one of you owns the property then the owner is entitled to change the locks.

People who are married or in a civil partnership have a right to live in the family home if it has been the main family home during the marriage or civil partnership. This is the case whether the property is in your joint names, only one person’s name or you are renting it. Both parties therefore have the right to be in the home and you cannot exclude the other person without a court order. In such circumstances, neither party should change of locks.

Where you are not married or in a civil partnership the reply to the question depends upon whether the property is jointly owned or not. If the property is jointly owned then you cannot change the locks without the agreement of the other person.

I want to separate from my spouse, what do I need to do?

1. Seek professional advice
2. Check Eligibility for Legal Aid
3. Talk to your children (depending on age and circumstances)
4. Consider mediation to help resolve conflict
5. Consider a separation agreement

What is Parental Responsibility and what does it mean?

Parental Responsibility (PR) confirms the responsibilities you have for your children. Some responsibilities must be undertaken by all adults who have PR, but others can be done individually. These responsibilities include the following:-

1. Jointly choosing your child’s school
2. Jointly deciding where your child should live, and whether that should be in the UK or abroad
3. Making emergency medical decisions (this can be done by anyone with PR for the child in question, and does not need the presence of all who hold PR)
4. Jointly encouraging your child to take part in religious or cultural traditions within the family
5. Jointly deciding your child’s surname
6. In most circumstances, jointly agreeing for your child to take a holiday abroad