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Divorce isn't always the best course of action for married couples seeking to part ways. In some cases, divorce may not be an option at all. A separation agreement, also known as a marital separation or separation agreement, offers flexibility for couples wishing to benefit from remaining legally married or couples who cannot divorce for religious or personal reasons. Couples looking to separate temporarily while considering divorce or reconciliation can also benefit from a marriage separation.

A separation agreement is a legally binding contract that addresses how bills, child custody and visitation, shared property, and spousal support will be handled throughout a separation. With a marital agreement in place, couples wishing to separate temporarily or permanently can split their assets while keeping their legal relationship intact.

A separation agreement may also serve as a precursor to a formal divorce. Couples who ultimately settle on divorce can use the document as a foundation for their divorce terms.

Married couples do not necessarily have to go through a lawyer or file paperwork with a court to become separated. However, hiring legal counsel when establishing a marriage agreement can be helpful, as both parties must consent to the terms of the contract.

If you are considering splitting from your partner, read below to determine whether separation is the right choice for you and how to proceed if you wish to file a separation agreement.

Types of Separations

Separations are broken down into three categories:

Trial Separation

Couples who wish to break from the relationship may opt for a trial separation while considering whether to divorce, reconcile or separate permanently. Legally, nothing changes in a trial separation. Still, it may be helpful to create an informal agreement with guidelines that address joint bank accounts and credit cards, budgeting, and time spent with children throughout the separation.

Permanent Separation

If a couple separates with no intentions of reconciling, they become permanently separated in the eyes of the law. In that case, they may no longer be entitled to any debts or assets that the other spouse acquires. A permanent separation may precipitate a divorce, as the agreement remains intact even after a formal divorce.

In some states, married couples can legally separate by filing a petition in family court. Legally separated couples are not technically divorced but may not remarry. A court order dictates how property division, alimony, and child custody and support are handled in a legal separation.

Reasons to Consider a Separation Agreement

Divorce isn't always optimal or feasible. A marriage separation is a good choice for couples who aren't yet sure if they want to divorce or who seek to benefit from remaining legally married in the following ways: \

  • Remaining on shared benefits and health care plans
  • Remaining legally married due to religious or spiritual beliefs that prohibit divorce
  • Continuing to file joint tax returns
  • Using the separation as a trial before determining whether to remain married or dissolve the marriage

In some states, couples must have a separation agreement in place before they can file for a formal divorce. Be sure to check your state's divorce laws to determine whether a separation agreement is necessary ahead of a divorce.

Separation Agreement or Divorce

Separation and divorce may appear similar, but the two differ vastly where the law is involved. It's essential to understand the implications of both before settling on a divorce vs. a separation agreement.

A separation occurs when two married people decide to separate short-term or long-term. Couples who separate typically split their assets, debts, and responsibilities but do not file for a formal divorce. A separated couple is still legally married but has chosen to end the relationship.

A divorce occurs when a couple wishes to terminate their marriage permanently. Couples seeking divorce must separate their assets and debts independently or with a lawyer's help and subsequently submit divorce papers to a court that will legally dissolve the marriage.

Key Differences

-A separation agreement offers more flexibility than a formal divorce.
-Separation can be less emotionally taxing than a divorce.
-A separation agreement helps couples divide their assets and go their separate ways while remaining legally married.
-A separation agreement can be prepared at home or with a lawyer's help.

What is Addressed in a Separation Agreement?

Most marriage agreements establish guidelines surrounding alimony, child support and custody, and parenting time and visitation.

A separation agreement may also establish how to divide any shared property and how the couple will handle taxes and pay off debts in the future.

If needed, a marital agreement can address name changes or establish protective orders that prohibit one or both parties from a specified action.

What to Include in Separation Agreement

A well-drafted separation agreement should include the following:

  • Division of marital assets such as property, financial accounts, insurance, business interests, and retirement accounts
  • Division of debt responsibilities
  • Spousal support, including maintenance and alimony
  • Child custody, child support payments, and visitation rights
  • Allocation of costs such as health insurance and whether spouses are entitled to any specific assets
  • Responsibilities relating to marital property expenses such as utilities, insurance, and mortgage
  • Spousal benefits and who will pay for them

Benefits of a Separation Agreement

Separation agreements have several benefits over a formal divorce, including the following:

  • Separation is generally faster and less expensive than divorce;
  • Separation may be less stressful and emotional than a formal divorce court process
  • Parties may hire attorneys to convey their wishes to one another with minimal interaction.
  • A marriage agreement offer more flexibility and control over the contract's terms when compared to formal divorce.

How to File a Separation Agreement

How you proceed with a separation agreement can vary depending on what type of separation you pursue. In any case, a your agreement contract must contain the following information for it to be legally valid:

  • Name and address of both spouses
  • Details of the marriage
  • Beginning date of the separation
  • Statement of the intention to separate
  • Terms of use of the agreement
  • Specifications regarding the division of assets and the shared financial or child responsibilities of both parties

Certain states require a separation agreement to be filed with the state when pursuing legal separation or divorce. The agreement must always be signed by both spouses to be considered valid.

Final Thoughts

A separation agreement is a helpful document for couples wanting to end their relationship but remain married. A written contract can help them divide their assets while they consider a permanent separation or a divorce.

Hiring legal counsel to assist with a marital agreement is not necessary. You can create a comprehensive separation agreement at home using LawDistrict's free separation agreement template.

Get Your Separation Agreement Now

Divorce isn't always the best course of action for married couples seeking to part ways. In some cases, divorce may not be an option at all. A separation agreement, also known as a marital separation or separation agreement, offers flexibility for couples wishing to benefit from remaining legally married or couples who cannot divorce for religious or personal reasons. Couples looking to separate temporarily while considering divorce or reconciliation can also benefit from a marriage separation.

A separation agreement is a legally binding contract that addresses how bills, child custody and visitation, shared property, and spousal support will be handled throughout a separation. With a marital agreement in place, couples wishing to separate temporarily or permanently can split their assets while keeping their legal relationship intact.

A separation agreement may also serve as a precursor to a formal divorce. Couples who ultimately settle on divorce can use the document as a foundation for their divorce terms.

Married couples do not necessarily have to go through a lawyer or file paperwork with a court to become separated. However, hiring legal counsel when establishing a marriage agreement can be helpful, as both parties must consent to the terms of the contract.

If you are considering splitting from your partner, read below to determine whether separation is the right choice for you and how to proceed if you wish to file a separation agreement.

Types of Separations

Separations are broken down into three categories:

Trial Separation

Couples who wish to break from the relationship may opt for a trial separation while considering whether to divorce, reconcile or separate permanently. Legally, nothing changes in a trial separation. Still, it may be helpful to create an informal agreement with guidelines that address joint bank accounts and credit cards, budgeting, and time spent with children throughout the separation.

Permanent Separation

If a couple separates with no intentions of reconciling, they become permanently separated in the eyes of the law. In that case, they may no longer be entitled to any debts or assets that the other spouse acquires. A permanent separation may precipitate a divorce, as the agreement remains intact even after a formal divorce.

In some states, married couples can legally separate by filing a petition in family court. Legally separated couples are not technically divorced but may not remarry. A court order dictates how property division, alimony, and child custody and support are handled in a legal separation.

Reasons to Consider a Separation Agreement

Divorce isn't always optimal or feasible. A marriage separation is a good choice for couples who aren't yet sure if they want to divorce or who seek to benefit from remaining legally married in the following ways: \

  • Remaining on shared benefits and health care plans
  • Remaining legally married due to religious or spiritual beliefs that prohibit divorce
  • Continuing to file joint tax returns
  • Using the separation as a trial before determining whether to remain married or dissolve the marriage

In some states, couples must have a separation agreement in place before they can file for a formal divorce. Be sure to check your state's divorce laws to determine whether a separation agreement is necessary ahead of a divorce.

Separation Agreement or Divorce

Separation and divorce may appear similar, but the two differ vastly where the law is involved. It's essential to understand the implications of both before settling on a divorce vs. a separation agreement.

A separation occurs when two married people decide to separate short-term or long-term. Couples who separate typically split their assets, debts, and responsibilities but do not file for a formal divorce. A separated couple is still legally married but has chosen to end the relationship.

A divorce occurs when a couple wishes to terminate their marriage permanently. Couples seeking divorce must separate their assets and debts independently or with a lawyer's help and subsequently submit divorce papers to a court that will legally dissolve the marriage.

Key Differences

-A separation agreement offers more flexibility than a formal divorce.
-Separation can be less emotionally taxing than a divorce.
-A separation agreement helps couples divide their assets and go their separate ways while remaining legally married.
-A separation agreement can be prepared at home or with a lawyer's help.

What is Addressed in a Separation Agreement?

Most marriage agreements establish guidelines surrounding alimony, child support and custody, and parenting time and visitation.

A separation agreement may also establish how to divide any shared property and how the couple will handle taxes and pay off debts in the future.

If needed, a marital agreement can address name changes or establish protective orders that prohibit one or both parties from a specified action.

What to Include in Separation Agreement

A well-drafted separation agreement should include the following:

  • Division of marital assets such as property, financial accounts, insurance, business interests, and retirement accounts
  • Division of debt responsibilities
  • Spousal support, including maintenance and alimony
  • Child custody, child support payments, and visitation rights
  • Allocation of costs such as health insurance and whether spouses are entitled to any specific assets
  • Responsibilities relating to marital property expenses such as utilities, insurance, and mortgage
  • Spousal benefits and who will pay for them

Benefits of a Separation Agreement

Separation agreements have several benefits over a formal divorce, including the following:

  • Separation is generally faster and less expensive than divorce;
  • Separation may be less stressful and emotional than a formal divorce court process
  • Parties may hire attorneys to convey their wishes to one another with minimal interaction.
  • A marriage agreement offer more flexibility and control over the contract's terms when compared to formal divorce.

How to File a Separation Agreement

How you proceed with a separation agreement can vary depending on what type of separation you pursue. In any case, a your agreement contract must contain the following information for it to be legally valid:

  • Name and address of both spouses
  • Details of the marriage
  • Beginning date of the separation
  • Statement of the intention to separate
  • Terms of use of the agreement
  • Specifications regarding the division of assets and the shared financial or child responsibilities of both parties

Certain states require a separation agreement to be filed with the state when pursuing legal separation or divorce. The agreement must always be signed by both spouses to be considered valid.

Final Thoughts

A separation agreement is a helpful document for couples wanting to end their relationship but remain married. A written contract can help them divide their assets while they consider a permanent separation or a divorce.

Hiring legal counsel to assist with a marital agreement is not necessary. You can create a comprehensive separation agreement at home using LawDistrict's free separation agreement template.

Get Your Separation Agreement Now