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What are separation agreements?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2024 | Divorce |

A separation agreement is a legally binding contract between spouses who have decided to live apart but remain legally married. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse during their separation.

This document covers a variety of topics including child custody, child support, spousal support and the division of property and debts.

How separation agreements differ from divorce decrees

While both separation agreements and divorce decrees address similar issues, they serve different legal purposes. A separation agreement does not end a marriage; instead, it defines how the spouses will live separately. In contrast, a divorce decree is a court order that officially ends a marriage.

One major difference is that a court does not need to approve a separation agreement for it to be valid. Spouses can enter into a separation agreement without any court involvement. This can make the separation process quicker and less costly than divorce. However, if a dispute arises, a spouse may still seek court intervention to enforce the agreement.

A divorce decree, on the other hand, requires judicial approval. During a divorce process, the court examines and must approve all agreements related to the division of assets, child custody and other arrangements before the divorce is finalized. This process ensures that the terms are fair and in accordance with the law.

Additionally, a divorce decree allows for the legal status of the relationship to change from married to single, which permits remarriage. A separation agreement does not grant this change in marital status.

Why choose a separation agreement?

Many couples opt for a separation agreement as a step toward divorce. It allows them to organize their financial and parental responsibilities while living separately. This can be a beneficial arrangement for those who are not yet ready to divorce due to personal, financial or religious reasons.

Separation agreements also provide a framework that can simplify the divorce process if the couple decides to proceed. By addressing major issues early and without the immediate pressure of divorce, couples can negotiate terms more amicably and thoroughly.

A separation agreement is a practical option for couples who wish to live apart without immediately proceeding to divorce. It helps manage the legal aspects of separation and provides a clear framework for responsibilities and rights.