Living Apart – Do I need a Separation Agreement?

Aug 8, 2012 by

There are many steps that can come before an actual divorce, and for couples who still want to work things out in some fashion, a separation agreement might be in order. One of the things that makes the divorce process so confusing is that each state has its own mandated set of rules on how to handle things. Some states will recognize a separation as a legal step in the process, while other states don’t have any true distinction for separation. When the courts are involved, they will typically honor what are known as separation agreements. These are documents that lay out the details of the separation, so that there isn’t any mis-communication during the process.

What things do separation agreements spell out?
The thing to understand about these particular agreements is that they are all situation dependent. You will rarely find two of these agreements that are exactly alike, because different states have rules of separation and couples will obviously have their own set of circumstances to consider. For the most part though, they outline the in-between details. If there are kids involved, they outline who will take care of the kids, and what sort of custody rights each side will have. If a child lives with one side over the other, the agreements dictate that one spouse provides monetary support for things like school and clothes.

In addition, smaller things like pet care and religion can be outlined in one of these agreements. Some agreements are more complicated than others, because some couples will need everything spelled out in writing before they separate. In other cases, a couple could be just looking for a break so that they can work on things together, and very little needs to be spelled out. These type of folks typically wouldn’t opt for a legal separation, as they would usually just handle the process without the help of the court system.

How do you get a separation agreement?
Similar to divorce papers, agreements are typically worked out between the two spouses, and they can helped along by a mediator. The courts will have final say over the separation agreement, and they will take care to enforce the agreed conditions. Some states do not legally recognize agreements from other states.

Separation agreements can be good tools for working out the details of a split while couples attempt to repair their marriage. This is usually a step or two before divorce, and for many couples a separation agreement can allow them to fully focus on the serious business of saving or ending their relationship.

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