A growing number of couples are choosing not to marry and are preferring to cohabit. A large proportion will stay together. However, for those who decide to separate, they may consider some formal written agreement. This is not a legal requirement and, in many cases, people make their own arrangements regarding children and finances with nothing formal in place.
However, some people prefer to have something formal in writing and in that situation a Separation Agreement is an option to consider. This agreement sets out the assets and liabilities of the parties and how they are to be dealt with on the basis of what the parties agree.
It is important to note though that this agreement is not legally binding in the same way as a Court Order is, and it would be treated as a contract between the parties instead. As the law gives very little protection to those who are cohabiting (as opposed to those who are married) the remedies open to people in this situation (if they want to enforce a Separation Agreement) are fairly limited. There are claims which could be made under the Trusts of Land Act (in relation to a house or similar property), under Schedule 1 of the Children Act (as a temporary arrangement until children are no longer legally dependant) but, otherwise, a common option would be an application under Small Claims to the County Court (if applicable).