The end of a relationship can be as hard, if not harder, than starting a new one, especially when it’s after years of marriage. If you’re not ready to call it quits and just need a break, or wish to wait before you and your partner officially get divorced, a separation agreement may be what you need. The family law attorneys at The Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC can help.
What is a Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract between two spouses who have decided to separate but are not yet ready to divorce. It is a written document that outlines the responsibilities and rights of each party during the separation period. This agreement can cover various issues such as:
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Property division
- Marital debt
In the case of child support, the court will still have to do their calculations and will change them if they feel the separation agreement will not provide for the children.
Each of these issues can be changed should the separation proceed to divorce.
How is it Different from Divorce?
A separation agreement differs from a divorce in that it does not officially end the marriage. It is a temporary arrangement that allows the couple to live separately. During this time, they can work through their issues and make decisions about their future.
Technically, a couple can remain legally separated until one of them passes away, but either partner can file for divorce after one year from signing the separation agreement. In contrast, divorce legally dissolves the marriage and all its legal ties.
How Can Separation Agreements Lead to Divorce?
In some cases, separation agreements can lead to divorce if the couple decides to make it permanent. The terms outlined in the separation agreement can serve as a foundation for the divorce settlement. This can make the process smoother and less contentious.
Benefits of Having a Separation Agreement
Having a separation agreement can provide numerous benefits to all involved parties.
- They afford you and your partner a sense of stability and predictability during what can be a tumultuous time. With a separation agreement, each party understands their rights, responsibilities, and obligations. This can reduce potential conflicts if you proceed with divorce.
- An agreement allows a couple to maintain their marital status, which could be beneficial for tax, insurance, or religious reasons.
- Agreements offer time for couples to work through their issues with a framework for eventual divorce, should they decide to proceed.
- Don’t forget to utilize separation agreement attorneys. Parties can ensure that their interests are thoroughly represented and protected during the process. This legal guidance can be invaluable in navigating the complexities of separation procedures and in securing fair and balanced terms.
Drawbacks of Having a Separation Agreement
Despite its numerous benefits, a separation agreement isn’t without its drawbacks. Understanding these can help ensure you make an informed decision about whether it’s the right choice for you.
- Legal complexity: Crafting a fair and comprehensive separation agreement can be a complex process, just as much as divorce, especially if you have children. They require a clear understanding of both parties’ rights and obligations. Without the experience of separation agreement attorneys, you may unknowingly agree to unfair terms.
- Emotional strain: Developing a separation agreement can be emotionally difficult, as it requires confronting and discussing contentious issues. This can exacerbate the stress and tension already present during a separation, though, in this aspect, it would not be much different from divorce.
- Unclear future: A separation agreement doesn’t provide the same certainty as a divorce. While it outlines the terms of the separation, it leaves the outcome of the marriage undecided. This can perpetuate uncertainty and anxiety for some people.
- Legal enforcement: While a separation agreement is a legally binding document, enforcing its terms can sometimes be challenging. If one party fails to adhere to the outlined responsibilities, this might require further legal action, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
Common Misconceptions About Separation Agreements
There are several misconceptions surrounding separation agreements that can often lead to confusion and misunderstandings.
- Misconception 1: One prevalent myth is that separation agreements are only for couples who plan to divorce. This is not the case. Many couples use separation agreements as a tool for working through issues while remaining married and never getting divorced.
- Misconception 2: Another common misconception is that separation agreements are not legally binding. In reality, these agreements are legal contracts, and failure to comply with their terms can result in legal consequences.
- Misconception 3: Some people believe that once a separation agreement is in place, it cannot be modified. This is untrue. Separation agreements can be revised as circumstances change, provided both parties agree to the modifications, just like with child custody and support after divorce, for example.
- Misconception 4: There is also a mistaken belief that separation agreements are easy to create without legal assistance. These are complex legal documents, just like divorce agreements.
Why You Need a Separation Agreement Attorney
While it is not legally required to have an attorney draft your separation agreement, it’s easy to make mistakes without one and create a document that will leave you at a disadvantage, or one that will be rejected by the courts.
An experienced separation agreement attorney from The Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC can ensure that your rights are protected and that the agreement is fair for both parties. We can also provide guidance and negotiate on your behalf to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.
To ensure that the agreement is valid and meets your needs, it is best to consult with a separation agreement attorney. At The Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC, our team is always ready to help, so contact us today.