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To agree or not to agree

With the news that Tom Cruise and Katy Holmes have split, the subject of separation and divorce agreements are once again in the spotlight.

Mr & Mrs Cruise appear to have swiftly reached agreement on how to settle their financial ties with one another. What those arrangements are we don’t know – and probably never will, as there is likely to be a confidentiality agreement.

Separation agreements are used in this country by couples who don’t want to rush into divorce. They can often be finalised more quickly than Orders within divorce proceedings.

Separation agreements are not currently binding, but are a factor that the Court will take into account in any subsequent divorce proceedings. If an agreement is properly prepared, with both sides receiving independent legal advice, the Courts will take account of what the clear intentions of the husband and wife were at the time their marriage came to an end. Reaching an agreement on what is the best arrangement for everyone concerned can be a minefield but with the right advice and a clear focus on the important issues, an agreement can be reached with minimum fuss.

Whatever the situation – and whether you are a film star or not – it is important to obtain the advice of a specialist family lawyer at the earliest possible opportunity when a marriage is coming to an end. It might then be decided that a separation agreement is the right way ahead, as a cost effective way to avoid protracted litigation in future.