Once you have made the difficult decision to separate from your spouse, there are often several practical considerations that will need to be addressed before beginning a lawsuit for divorce. Our family law attorneys will look out for your best interests and ensure that your rights are protected. We are dedicated to walking side-by-side through this new chapter with our clients to reduce uncertainty and stress.
A Separation Agreement, also called a “Separation and Property Settlement Agreement,” can address the issues below:
- child custody
- child support
- property distribution
- alimony, and
- inheritance rights.
Generally, a Separation Agreement is a private contract between separating spouses, where the parties are able to come to an agreement on one or more issues. A Separation Agreement can be used to settle some issues on which the spouses reach an agreement while allowing other claims to proceed to litigation — or it can resolve all pending claims. This agreement will survive the divorce, and the claims would not have to be relitigated at the time of divorce. If you have marital property such as a home, vehicles, bank accounts, pension or retirement accounts, a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement can be extremely effective in dividing assets without the expense and stress of a trial.
A Separation Agreement is a written document, signed by both parties in front of a Notary Public. It can remain a private contract between the parties, or the parties can specify that it will be incorporated into a Judgment of Divorce and then become an order of the court.
No single attorney can represent both spouses, and it is advisable that each partner consult their own attorney to draft and negotiate an acceptable agreement. Because a Separation Agreement is a private contract, it must be entered into freely and voluntarily, and no one can compel or coerce you into signing one.
The remedy for failure to adhere to a Separation Agreement is an action for breach of contract and/or specific performance. However, a Separation Agreement can also contain provisions for attorney’s fees and costs to be paid to the non-breaching party in the event that a lawsuit for enforcement is filed. When possible, we aim to resolve the majority of our client’s family law matters by utilizing our team’s negotiation and mediation expertise without having to enter a courtroom, which can often reduce legal expenses and stress, as well as bring about a swifter resolution.