What is a 'kitchen table agreement'?

Originally published on 21st November 2022 at 12:12 PM
Reading time: 4 mins

If you decide to separate or divorce, you will need to agree on how you divide your finances. This means any money, property, debt, or pensions.

There are lots of ways you can reach an agreement on how to separate your finances, and some options are cheaper than others.

Tip: If you’re looking to save money, explore completing the divorce application yourself via the government website or book a free 15-minute call to understand the options available to you.

Common ways to reach an agreement:

Kitchen table agreement £:

You reach an agreement between yourselves on how to separate your finances.

Mediation ££:

You use a mediator, to help you to reach an agreement over your finances. Usually, you will need to go elsewhere to get this written up into a legally binding document.

Negotiation Specialists ££:

You can use a specialist, such as amicable, to help you to reach an agreement over your finances. We can also prepare all the legal documents required (a consent order) which is reviewed by a Judge and made legally binding once approved.

Solicitors £££:

You each instruct a solicitor and reach an agreement through them acting for you.

Court ££££:

If you cannot reach an agreement, you can go to court for a Judge to decide this for you. This is the most expensive and acrimonious option and should be a last resort.

What is a kitchen table agreement?

A kitchen table agreement is as the name suggests where you sit down with your partner and decide together, what will happen to your finances once you separate.

It’s important to mention, that this isn’t legally binding. If you’d like to formalise your agreements, you can do so through a financial consent order. This will need to be drafted by a professional, and go to a Judge to be reviewed. Once approved, it becomes legally binding.

Pros of kitchen table agreement:

  • Cost-effective option
  • Flexible in terms of time
  • You stay in control of the process

A kitchen table agreement is cost-effective because you reach the agreement yourselves without professional help. You will still need to have your agreement legally drafted and submitted to court if you would like to make your financial arrangements legally binding and end future claims through a ‘ clean break clause ’.

It’s also flexible in terms of time, as you reach an agreement yourselves, so aren’t constrained by standard working hours. This means you can sit down together at a time to suit.

You can stay in control of the process as you aren’t reaching an agreement through solicitors, who are negotiating on your behalf. You also stay in control of the process by using a service such as amicable, or mediation.

Cons of kitchen table agreement:

  • Your agreement isn’t necessarily fair
  • You might not have considered all your options
  • Difficult if one person is a stronger negotiator than the other

A kitchen table agreement might not be for everyone. It’s tempting to save money and try and reach an agreement yourselves, but this isn’t necessarily the best outcome for you and your family.

It’s worth noting that just because you’re in agreement over your settlement and that you both think it’s fair, doesn’t mean that the law will too. The starting point is usually a 50/50 split of all assets, so if you’ve departed from this, a Judge reviewing your consent order will want to understand why, and that your needs are met.

Having a clear understanding of your options, and what your agreement will look like five or even ten years down the line is helpful. This is a huge moment and will have long-lasting consequences, so it’s worth getting right.

If one of you is a stronger negotiator, this may put the other in a weaker position to voice their needs and concerns. Having a neutral outsider, to support your negotiations can be useful in levelling the playing field.

5 Questions to ask yourselves if you choose a kitchen table agreement

  1. Do I feel comfortable negotiating with my ex?
  2. Is a 50/50 split fair in our personal situation?
  3. Is this arrangement going to work in several years' time?
  4. Are one of us walking away feeling as though we got a ‘great’ deal
  5. Are we 100% decided on everything and have we considered ALL our assets including things such as pensions and cryptocurrency?

Where can I find help?

At amicable, we can prepare your kitchen table agreement into a consent order, and manage the court process. We will not unpick your agreement or create tension, but we’ll let you know if we think the court might raise queries on anything you’ve agreed to.

If you get stuck or feel as though you’d benefit from guided negotiation sessions, we can help you to reach an agreement over your finances and child arrangements, enabling you to build positive futures, apart.

If you’d like to learn more about the process, speak to us today through our free 15-minute advice calls.

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