Couples who are going through a hard time may not want to immediately file for divorce. People can choose to temporarily separate while they work on their personal issues and on their issues in their relationship with their spouse. Living separately can give some people time to reflect and adjust their behavior or attitude about certain issues.
Some couples who separate eventually reunite, while others realize during the separation that divorce is the only real solution to their family’s issues. If you and your spouse have recently considered or talked about separating as a way to address ongoing issues or potentially prepare your family for a divorce, the creation of a separation agreement can make everything easier for your family.
What do you include in a separation agreement?
As with any kind of major marital contract, a separation agreement is usually strongest and most valid when both parties signing it have their own legal representation and demand certain terms that protect them. That way, both people will sign the separation agreement with full knowledge and understanding of its contents while also avoiding potential mistakes such as failing to sign in the right location.
In a separation agreement, you, theoretically, can include any terms that you and your ex agree to. From who keeps the marital home to how you split up time with your kids, there could be many details in your separation agreement that will guide you as a navigate this change in your relationship.
You may also want to include long-term plans, including agreements on how you will split your assets and your parenting time if you do not reconcile. Additionally, you should have certain terms in place if you do reconcile and the separation ends.
How a separation agreement helps with a divorce
The terms set in your separation agreement can help you and your spouse secure an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorce filings are faster and therefore less expensive. They are also more private because you won’t have to air your family’s dirty laundry in court in order to convince the courts to rule in your favor.
It is important to realize that while the courts will typically uphold property agreements outlined in a separation agreement, they will possibly make modifications to terms regarding child custody and support, as the terms you set may not align with the court’s idea of the best interests of the children. Still, creating an outline of a parenting plan in your separation agreement will give you more influence over the final terms set in a divorce, if that is what happens.