A separation agreement is not a divorce. It is a written agreement between a couple who intend to stop living together but are either not ready for a divorce/dissolution or do not currently have grounds for a divorce/dissolution.
The separation agreement sets out how the couple wish to deal with financial, property and parental responsibilities. Each agreement is tailored to the needs of each couple but will probably deal with the following matters:
The separation agreement is a very flexible arrangement which provides a good framework for both parties to work with: it acts as a tool to help them think through both the immediate and future implications of the separation. Also, if things become less amicable later on, it serves to remind them what was agreed at the outset.
If a divorce/dissolution is later sought then the separation agreement can be submitted as evidence of agreed arrangements. Whilst the court has the authority to overturn the agreement, it is unlikely to do so if it can be shown that the terms are fair and reasonable. If uncontested, the separation agreement can therefore help to reduce the time and costs involved in the divorce.
The court is not involved in the preparation of the separation agreement. It is not a court order and is only enforceable as a contract between the two parties. As such it is very important that it is properly written otherwise it may not prove to be legally binding.