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About this separation agreement
A separation agreement is an agreement made by a married, civil union or de facto couple that they’ve decided to live apart. It can be a spoken or written agreement.
A separation agreement can be registered in the Family Court as a “consent order”. This means that if anything goes wrong, it can be enforced just like a Court order.
Before we tell you about this document, please note that a separation agreement is not binding in law in the same way that a commercial contract would be. A judge can still change the terms, whether your agreement is based on our template or is written for you by your solicitor. We explain in more detail further down this page.
When a relationship ends and partners go their own ways, there can be a great deal of uncertainty as to who will pay previously joint bills, how possessions and assets will be split, and who will look after the children.
For married couples, a separation agreement like this one (sometimes called a deed of separation) provides certainty as to how each person will live while a divorce is being settled.
A separation agreement can deal with issues such as:
- who’ll have the care of your children
- any agreement for maintenance (financial support) for one partner or for the children
- how you’ll divide your property.
It is also suitable for:
- couples who are separating having not married, and for
- couples looking to end a civil partnership or same sex union.
This separation agreement provides both parties with a degree of protection and certainty in what would otherwise be a very uncertain time.
Why use this separation agreement
There are a number of reasons to use a written deed of separation:
- Prevent future arguments
A separation agreement is a written record of what you agreed between yourselves. After signing the document, it is more difficult for one person to argue that he or she did not agree to something.
- Save time and money on solicitors
Solicitors can be good negotiators and can offer good advice on entitlements, but there is nothing in a separation agreement that requires legal knowledge or a solicitor. This document achieves much the same as a solicitor would do for you after a few meetings. Unless you want a solicitor for another reason, you can save time and money by completing this document yourself instead of asking him or her to do it for you at a high hourly cost.
- It could form the basis of a consent order in divorce
If you can demonstrate that the agreement has worked well for a period of time, a judge could let it form the basis of a consent order in divorce proceedings.
- Keep the relationship amicable
Court proceedings inevitably become acrimonious. There is a much greater chance of keeping your future relationship friendly (and agreeing a split that suits both parties, keeping joint friends and making access to children easier) if you can work out together the details of the separation before you reach a court. A deed of separation can make divorce process easier, faster and less stressful because many of the difficult things have been agreed already.
The law on separation agreements
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract in New Zealand. If the separation agreement covers the division of property, each partner must obtain independent legal advice from a solicitor and provide certification that this has been done. However, when or if you do have to go to court, it is likely that the judge will make an order (which will be binding of course) in the terms of your agreement provided:
- the agreement is fair;
- you both worked on the agreement without pressure and entered into it freely;
- it covers all your assets after full disclosure.
The extent to which a judge will stay with the agreement reflects the level of his acceptance of the above three points.
If one of you is in breach of the deed of separation and the other goes to court to enforce it, the judge will make an assessment as described above and will enforce the agreement to the extent that he feels is right.
Note: children arrangements have no legal standing at all. The court will take no account of what you have agreed but will start afresh in considering the interest of each child. Of course, if a satisfactory arrangement is in place, it is likely that he will order that the arrangement should remain undisturbed. It is always worth making arrangements for your children because it is bound to be in their interests to have a secure and firm framework for their lives.
Completing your separation agreement
The agreement is straightforward and easy to complete.
This deed of separation provides for detailed disclosure, but we do not try to anticipate every asset you may have. You must be very thorough in your disclosure.
Next, you should discuss what you want from the separation. You may need to instruct experts (such as an accountant and/or a surveyor) to value financial and physical joint assets.
This template provides for you to set down your exact arrangements for your children. Although not binding on the Court, your agreement together will reduce the risk of future disagreement, as will all other aspects of your lives.
We advise that you arrange for a lawyer to witness you signing the agreement and certify that you understood the effect.
Separation agreement contents
The document includes paragraphs that cover:
- Details of the parties, including the separation date
- Details of any children, if applicable
- Arrangements for the disposal of the house by sale, or
- An option for one party to keep the matrimonial home and be bought out by the other
- Payment of outgoings such as bills and other expenses – who will pay
- Division of other possessions and household property
- Assignment of insurance policies (you may additionally need: Deed of assignment: life insurance policy or endowment policy)
- Division of business property
- Maintenance payments for the spouse and any children
- Lump sum payments
- Conclusion of joint accounts
- Option for the parties to agree to petition for a divorce after two years separation
- Child maintenance arrangements
- Parental rights arrangements
This document was written by a solicitor for Net Lawman. It complies with current New Zealand law.
What other customers thought
Average customer rating
By Helen Regas 12 April 2017
Had all the information needed and easy to add or delete sections we didn't require. Bought this on behalf of a friend who found it on the internet. I just helped them negotiate what they needed and they were very pleased with the document and outcome, made things so much easier.
By Helen Percival 10 March 2017
Excellent, well explained and simple to adjust document. Good to know it comes from trustworthy legal source.
This document bridged the gap between nothing and calling in the lawyers (very expensive option) for us. It was easy to adapt to our needs and as we simply wanted it witnesssed rather than explained by separate lawyers we changed the signing page to be witnessed by a JP. Whilst this may have reduced its formal legality, it suits our non-acrimonious needs adequately and has worked well for us.
By Fiona McClure 27 October 2016
My lawyer quoted in the thousands to do a document, instead I downloaded your template. Excellent guidance notes thank you, made it easy to only include relevant paragraphs for my own situation.
By John Peter Watson 05 June 2016
Document was clear
Response to request was prompt
Charge was very reasonable
Hopefully I will get the desired result!!
By Larissa Thyne 14 February 2016
The document covered all the basics and has provided a good base to start with. There are sections for all the main areas, it is easy to remove the sections that do not apply.
By Minette Soekoe 15 July 2015
The document was immediately available and easy to download.
By Dave Mainwaring 12 April 2015
Well worth the money - gave some strait forward guidance in an area most of us hopefully can stay away from.
By Mike Grumball 15 February 2015
It was very easy to use the service and get the document I required. I would certainly recommend the service to others.
By John Hookway 17 December 2013
It seems good and covers everything OK, simple and easy to use, well worth the price.
By Barry Baker 03 April 2017
It was very easy to use and the various options were well set out and easily enabled me to delete the bits I did not need and the numbering reset itself.
It enabled me as informed but non-solicitor to draft the document for review without incurring that mundane cost.
By Jamie Taplin 23 February 2017
Easy to follow and great information
By David Gould 19 October 2016
This has helped us where a lot of the questions were asked in advance so with regards to the solicitor it sped up the meaning we required the document for.
Different lawyers had a different response based off their preferred method of working. But this was about us, and as long as the document was legally sound we were happy.
By Gary Fowler 27 January 2016
I found it easy to understand and follow
By Ray Renner 23 December 2015
"I think it covers all of the bases well. It could be improved possibly by providing example tables for assets etc.
In the section where it talks about the net capital payment, It wasn't clear whether the payment was inclusive of property or just other assets, financial and business assets. I assumed it was for both and itemized two amounts to make this clear.
On financial assets it might pay to make it clearer what this entails. Again I made an assumption that this included financial liabilities that were not tagged to a specific asset e.g. credit card debt. Again an example table would help clarify this.
All in all though, your document gave me the basic format needed and hopefully it will pass the respective solicitors scrutiny and the two people involved can move on with their lives."
By Trevor Stone 22 September 2015
The NetLawman documents have made it much easier to follow and customize a format for obtaining a separation. thankyou.
By Richard Gray 03 June 2015
The document was comprehensive and easy to follow. I needed a draft to get agreement with the ex before we went to our lawyers, and net lawman did the job.
Rick - Auckland
By Matthew De Jonge 20 November 2015
It was usefully to see the questions a lawyer might ask but useless for a legal seperation document in NZ as all lawyers approached wish to go exhaustively through our finances and draft their own agreement for excessive $$. Suggest NetLawman provide an online process or network of lawyers prepared to endorse or sign this document.
Matt de Jonge
"I have found Net Lawman perfect for my needs and saved me thousand of dollars in legal fees getting a lawyer to produce these douc's from scratch. I have used three of the Net Lawman doc's to basically write up the NDA, contract, Non Solicitation agreements to a level of being 95% complete and then used my lawyer to sign off. My lawyer even commented how complete these doc's are.
Thanks guys, great service/product.
Cheers Dean"Dean Harper
"I needed an Agreement and Google, as always, was where I headed. I found the Net Lawman site and initially I thought I needed a relationship type Agreement but the Lodger one was absolutely perfect.
I didn't think it would be so easy so would recommend your website to anybody who was looking for an Agreement to suit their needs."Wendy Auger
"...Yes very useful. I understand the terminology etc as I've seen a fair few legal docs before. Notes are very helpful. Gives me some base insight without the expense of a solicitor! "John K