While a separation agreement is not legally required for a couple to obtain a separation or divorce, it can make either process a whole lot smoother. A separation agreement is a legally binding document that divides all marital assets and debts. It can be used as the framework for a divorce agreement but is usually put in place when a couple decides to legally separate.
The purpose of a separation agreement is to decide and agree upon the terms of a separation.
Generally, separation agreements cover:
- division of debt;
- distribution of assets;
- spousal support;
- child custody;
- child visitation arrangements; and/or
- child support.
How can a couple peacefully agree upon a separation document? There are a few ways this can be achieved.
- Draft Simple Terms
Many people assume they must bog down documents with confusing legal jargon, but that simply isn’t true. A separation agreement can contain any sort of language a couple chooses. As long as both parties agree upon the terms and sign the document, it is legally binding. Don’t stress about the wording so much as what you and your partner would like out of the separation.
- Make the Agreement Mutable
Once a separation agreement is signed, it is binding and can’t be changed. However, if you and your partner have children together, you should create terms that evolve as the children grow and their needs change. Visitation and custody arrangements will most likely change, and the visitation schedule will need to reflect these changes. In some cases, you and your partner can include a stipulation that takes these unavoidable life changes into account.
- Include Safety Provisions
If you and your partner share a large collection of property or assets, there is a good chance some items may be forgotten. For this reason, it’s important to include a line or two explaining what could happen if an item is accidentally left out.
- Create a Plan for Custody and Visitation
As touched upon earlier, if you and your partner have children, there should be some sort of plan for how custody and visitation will go. If this doesn’t exist in your agreement, the court will create one for you and you may not like what it decides. You and your partner know your schedules better than anyone. Work together to create something that works for both of you.
Separation Agreement Attorneys
A properly constructed separation agreement can smooth out the separation process. If you have been searching for an attorney skilled in separation agreements, look no further!