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What is a Separation Agreement?

bigstock_conflict_between_the_man.jpgWhen someone says the word “divorce”, one of the first images that comes to mind is an ominous courtroom with a judge in robes, and two well dressed, red faced attorneys shouting at one another. Although this is one way to handle the issues surrounding a divorce, there are other methods that don’t require the reenactment of a Perry Mason episode, such as the use of a separation agreement.

When a married couple separates, it can take some finesse to unwind their lives since there are a variety of issues that need to be addressed such as:

  • Where will the kids live?
  • Am I going to get alimony?
  • How do I handle our joint debt?
  • What’s will happen with my 401k?

While these questions can all be answered by going to court, they can also be resolved by coming up with a well drafted separation agreement.  Each agreement is unique and can encompass matters relating to the division of property, spousal support, child support, and child custody.  Keep in mind that these contracts can be tailored to fit your specific needs and can even address other issues such as, who will care for the family pet, and how you’ll divide up frequent flier miles.

There are many advantages to negotiating a separation agreement versus going to court to settle matters related to a divorce.  Separation agreements tend to be more efficient and cost effective than going through a divorce litigation.  In addition, the husband and wife have the opportunity to come up with creative solutions to address their own personal needs as well as the needs of their children. It is important to remain open minded during the negotiation process and maintain a “give and take” attitude in order to reach an actual settlement.  If you’re able to put aside your emotions and focus on the issues at hand, the changes of negotiating a settlement are extremely high.

Once a separation agreement has been drafted and fully executed, it can then become incorporated into the divorce decree or remain as its own separate contract.  If it becomes part of the divorce decree, then the agreement will be treated as a court order and the terms are enforced as a court order.  Otherwise, the separation agreement can be treated as a contract and can be enforced just like any other contract.

Overall, a separation agreement is an effective way to handle the many issues that arise during the course of a divorce.  These agreements tend to reduce the financial and emotional costs of fighting over every item in court.  If done properly, a well drafted separation agreement can resolve all of the legal issues that would otherwise be decided in court and can help reduce the amount of stress on everyone involved while going through a divorce.

About McIlveen Family Law Firm

The McIlveen Family Law Firm handles all types of divorce and family law cases.


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