Deed Of Separation
Written by Ms Beatrice Yeo Poh Tiang, Yeo & Associates LLC
You and your spouse have made the decision to live apart for the following probable reasons:
- Need personal space now but leave a window of possibility to patch things up in the future;
- Regulate parties’ obligations during separation so that no further arguments on respective household and financial responsibilities during separation;
- Strive for uncontested divorce by incorporating the agreed terms during separation into a divorce court order;
- Have no desire to go for immediate divorce due to the young age of the children of the marriage;
- Delaying the divorce proceedings due to the newly purchased BTO flat and other restrictions relating to the HDB flat; or
- Restricted by law to proceed for divorce before 3 years have passed since the date of your marriage.
The advantage of this is the fact that additional time will be afforded for the couple to decide whether or not they wish to proceed with a divorce or work out their reconciliation. However, in many cases, a deed of separation can just be a prelude to divorce.
Deed of Separation – a formal agreement
Unlike in a divorce, a Deed of Separation, also known as Separation Deed, refers to a legally binding document, between married individuals, which states that they have made the decision to live separately.
This is a formal contract between the couple which documents from the commencement of the marriage separation, who is to have what and what the spouses’ responsibilities are for the financial commitments, that is, bills, loans and living arrangement for the children if any.
Even while separated, your legal obligations in a marriage do not cease. The same can be applied for your financial obligation to continue, for instance to continue repaying the mortgage loan and children’s expenses.
An experience divorce lawyer will advise you on the usual terms for a Deed of Separation for your consideration, as well as advising you on the types of information and documents to prepare for the draft deed of separation. The common information required of you includes the options for the disposal of the matrimonial flat, child custody arrangements, visitation rights, maintenance payments and division of mutual assets and property. Once drafted, you and your spouse may be engaged in negotiation or discussion to finalize the terms. Once an agreement is reached, the official deed of separation will be executed in the presence of a lawyer.
The Deed of Separation documents the exact date where the couple first separated (the date is usually mutually agreed between the parties) and will set out the terms and conditions governing the relationship between you and your spouse during the period of marriage separation.
Remember there is still a possibility for you to reconcile with your spouse after executing the Deed of Separation. There is no restrictions on the number of years of separation before the couple can proceed to file for the divorce application, however, parties must be legally married for at least 3 years from the date of the registration of marriage.
The purpose of a marriage separation agreement is to avoid the need for contested court proceedings if you decide to divorce. The Deed of Separation can be used in court for its adjudication on whether there was a prior mutual agreement and whether the agreement was kept. If a couple successfully agreed to a division of their marital assets and liabilities and the agreement for child’s custody care and control and access arrangement worked out well for the period of the separation, this could form a strong basis of a Consent Order to the court, as part of the divorce proceedings. The Women’s Charter provides for the court to place a heavy weight on parties’ prior agreement (usually by way of Deed of Separation or other types of financial agreement) to determine the final terms for the division of assets and child’s arrangement.
Ideally it would be good if you can agree on things with your partner so that time and costs will not be wasted. If your case is complicated, you may need a lawyer’s expertise to understand and better negotiate what you justly deserve. This is just one of the reasons why an experienced marriage divorce and separation lawyer is recommended in order to assist with the separation arrangements.