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Why You Need A Marital Separation Agreement

A marital separation agreement is a legally binding document drawn between a married couple that helps the couple formally divide assets, marital responsibilities, and debt, making separation fair and smooth. The agreement includes essential items like child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, and property division. A divorce lawyer will submit the completed separation agreement to the court before the divorce process begins so it can become a part of the final divorce decree.

What does a marital separation agreement cover?

A separation agreement covers the same set of topics that a divorce decree may also include:

  • It decides who keeps the family home.
  • It determines how to handle routine expenses like mortgage, rent, and utilities.
  • It outlines the division of assets acquired during the marriage.
  • It determines the rules and obligations towards spousal support, considering both parties’ source of income.
  • The separation agreement also helps the couple decide the custody division, financial support, and visitation rights if children are involved.

How different is it from a divorce decree?

The main difference between a separation agreement and a divorce decree is that it ends the marriage permanently once the court finalizes a divorce. A marital separation agreement will keep you and your spouse legally married while you stay separately.

Can a marital separation agreement be changed?

While a separation agreement is legally binding, it is just a contract between two parties. If you want to change anything mentioned in it, you can discuss it with your spouse and their legal counsel. If both parties agree to the changes, the document can be amended, while the court can also order changes to the agreement if it feels fit.

Benefits of a marital separation agreement

Couples in all situations can benefit from a marital separation agreement. While most people may feel that it is unnecessary, it can make the entire divorce process smooth, less expensive, and less stressful. Here are some of the reasons why you should get a marital separation agreement:

It gives you time to think your decision through

When you are unhappy as a couple, getting a divorce can seem like the only solution. It can get challenging to make reasonable decisions when being stuck in a vicious cycle of anger and arguments. A legal separation can help you take time off from each other, live apart while still being married, and think about how much you want the divorce. It lets you think about your relationship’s positives and negatives calmly. A separation agreement will let you put forth the rules and obligations to one another and keep both spouses accountable. You may realize that most marital problems can be resolved after staying apart for some time. You can then decide whether you want to give the relationship another chance or go ahead with the divorce.

Gives you the chance to stay separate if you cannot divorce

You may not want to live with your spouse and not want a divorce for several reasons. For instance, your religious beliefs may stop you from divorcing your spouse, or you may be married for less than a year, making it impossible for you to get a divorce legally. At such times, a marital separation agreement will let you live on your own away from the spouse without getting lawfully divorced.

It lets you make arrangements for children easily

Divorce is stressful and emotionally draining for everyone affected, whether the couple, their families or even their children. Arguments over child arrangements, custody, and child support will be involved. Children can be heartbroken and confused seeing their parents getting divorced. It is vital to put their needs first and walk them through the tough time sensitively. A separation agreement enables you and your spouse to negotiate important factors affecting your child in the presence of a solicitor without the need for stressful court hearings.

Makes the entire divorce process easy

Some couples may find legal separation pointless if they have decided to get a divorce. But it can have its benefits. You can use this time to determine what you want and then officiate the decision to part ways by filing for a divorce. Having a separation agreement can speed up the entire divorce process. The process can be smooth since you have already outlined how you will split and what your roles and responsibilities are. If one of the parties goes back on their word, then the agreement can also become written proof of what was originally agreed upon.

A separation agreement may make life after divorce easy

Getting adjusted to life after a divorce is not easy for all. Especially when you have been living together for years and have to move on and live alone suddenly. You and your partner have to start a new life and learn to live by yourself. A separation agreement can help you get used to living away from each other. It gives you time to sort all your disagreements so that you can move on easily in life when the divorce finally comes through.

When does a marital separation agreement become valid

A separation agreement is considered valid if:

  • It is fair to both the parties involved. It need not always be completely equal, but it should not be unfair to any of the parties.
  • It has both the spouses’ signatures.
  • It was drafted with the attorneys of both the partners involved. While it is not against the law to take your spouses’ attorney’s help to draft the separation agreement, it is recommended you use two separate lawyers so that the judge doesn’t question the validity of the agreement later.
  • It discloses all the details about assets and debts.

Our Divorce Lawyers can help you if you are considering a separation. We have years of experience dealing with family law. We will help you draft the agreement, handle complicated matters regarding child custody, visitation, and property division, and guide you through this difficult phase of life.
Jimeno & Gray, P.A., 7310 Ritchie Hwy #900 Glen Burnie MD 21061, 4105909401

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Attorney Greg Jimeno of MarylandAttorney Greg Jimeno of Maryland

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Attorney Jessica H. McConnell, Esq.

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