Whether you are getting a divorce or separating, it is important for couples to make an agreement about how they will separate and handle issues like living arrangements, children, finances and property. This will prevent confusion and arguments down the road. It can also help couples avoid lengthy, expensive and stressful divorce trials. A separation agreement is a private agreement between the spouses that may cover items like custody, visitation and child support. This agreement can be submitted to the court during divorce proceedings and become a part of the judge’s final divorce decree.
The most important element of any separation agreement is that it must be voluntarily signed by both parties. A judge will not enforce an agreement that is based on fraud, duress or coercion. Even though a separation agreement is not technically a legal proceeding, it should be prepared and signed by an attorney to ensure the terms are legally binding.
If you and your partner are having trouble reaching an agreement, it may be beneficial to hire a mediator or a lawyer to assist in the process. They can help you clarify your goals and needs, explain your rights and prepare an enforceable contract. Depending on your situation, you may choose to file the separation agreement as a lawsuit or formally incorporate it into your divorce.
While a separation agreement will simplify the process of divorcing, it does not eliminate the need for court review. The court will still look at the agreement before a contested divorce hearing and it may be incorporated into the final divorce decree. separation agreement process