Understanding Separation Agreements in Divorce

Aug 8, 2012 by

There are many steps that come before a divorce, and for couples who want to work things out in an agreeable fashion, a separation may 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 of them will actually recognize a separation as a legal step in the process, while others 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 a 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 theor own 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 agreement will dictate that one spouse provides monetary support for things like school.

In addition, some smaller things like pet care and religion can be outlined in some of these agreements. Some will be more complicated than others, because some couples will need everything spelled out in writing before they separate. In other cases, when a couple is just looking for a break so that they can work on things, very little needs to be spelled out. These folks typically wouldn’t opt for a legal separation though, 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, these things 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. It is a state by state issue, and some states don’t legally recognize these agreements.

All in all, separation agreements can be quite necessary for just working out the details while couples attempt to repair their marriage. This is a step or two before an actual divorce, and for many couples, an agreement will allow them to focus on their marriage without having to worry about lapses in communication causing more problems.

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