A Roadmap for Divorce: Separation Agreements

Want to make your divorce easier? Create a marital separation agreement. This agreement is an official, written agreement between you and your spouse. In the agreement, you each agree to specific matters of the settlement process. Examples of such matters include spousal support, child custody, and division of assets. Having these items clearly defined in writing makes the divorce easier because it puts you and your spouse on the same page. There will be considerably less uncertainty in the settlement if you have both decided the issues in writing. You will not, for example, wonder how much alimony is expected or how long those payments are expected to continue.

A marital separation agreement also makes divorce easier because it can be created before or after the official filing for dissolution. You do not need to appear in court and argue your case in order to create one. Instead, the document is flexible enough that, depending on the circumstances, it could be created while you are still living with your spouse.

A marital separation agreement is, essentially, a contract between you and your ex. Once you both sign it, either of you is liable for breach of contract for violating its terms. Although you do not need to file a marital settlement agreement in court for it to be legally enforceable, by asking the judge to make the agreement part of your final divorce judgment, you give the court power to hold the breaching party in contempt. It is for this reason (among many others) that it is ALWAYS best to have such an agreement reviewed by a lawyer who can advise you of the legal consequences of the agreement and exactly what you are getting and giving up.

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