This study explores the use made of out of court legally binding written agreements, known in Scotland as Minutes of Agreement, by couples wishing to regulate the division of their property, and the support of their children, when they separate (whether spouses, cohabitants or civil partners). In Scotland there is a long history of the use of these agreements when spouses separate without the need for parties to appear before a court for court orders. However the scope for such agreements has expanded over recent years with the passage of the Civil Partnership Act in 2004 (enabling the registration of same sex couples), and the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 (enabling cohabiting couples – whether same sex or opposite sex, to make a financial claim upon separation).
This research aims to discover the extent to which Minutes of Agreement are used, and the extent to which such private arrangements reflect (or reject) the statutory framework and wider policy objectives of the family justice system. Additionally, interviews with legal practitioners and individuals who have entered into Agreements will enable an exploration of the degree to which the Agreements are able to achieve the aims of the Parties involved.
Funding details: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Research team: Jane Mair, Fran Wasoff, Kirsteen Mackay
Dates: 1 June 2012 to 31 May 2013
Type of project: Research
Keywords: Private Ordering; Division of Property; Separation Agreements; Alternative Dispute Resolution; Child Contact; Child Support