Legal Separation Agreement

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Legal separation agreement is also known as marital separation agreement, separation agreement, property settlement agreement or marital settlement agreement or settlement agreement. Some states recognize documentation for legal separation and some don't. The couple reaches a settlement regarding the marital issues such as property division, responsibilities, duties, assets and liabilities along with debts, child custody, child support and alimony as well as the visitation schedule for the payment of the support amounts. All the arrangements are documented and notarized. The couple signs this document and it is legally binding for them to abide by the arrangements they have set for all the marital issues.

A separation agreement protects both the husband and wife for the period from separation until the couple divorces or reunites. It also influences the divorce settlement agreement at the time of granting of the divorce. Thus, it is very important to chalk out an agreement where both the spouses are benefited. Do not sign the agreement if there is a conflict regarding any issue. In case of conflict, the matter is taken to the court and the judge decides taking into consideration other factors affecting the particular issue.

Hiring an attorney each is necessary so that you can prepare a settlement agreement which is beneficial to both the partners. Besides, you also have to be careful that you don't violate the state laws in any provision when you sign the agreement.

Getting a legal separation agreement in writing, it helps in avoiding conflicts and disagreements when you proceed to divorce eventually. It also helps avoid taking the trivial issues to court for settlement. Many state courts encourage the spouses to reach a settlement through mutual discussions with the help of a professional attorney or a court mediator.

Make sure that the legal separation agreement is thoroughly drafted and is fair to both the parties. None of you should end up getting less or paying more. The agreement processed by a professional attorney, signed by both the parties and notarized by an authorized notary is legally enforceable in any state. This contract divides the assets and debts, determines the custody and visitation and decides the support arrangements.

The legal separation agreement is different in every state. Everything right from the forms you have to fill to the residency requirement is different. In some states, legal separation is a prerequisite for the divorce to be granted. However, the settlement agreement does not have to be filed with the court in every state. When it is signed by both the parties and notarized, it becomes automatically legal and enforceable.

The couple has to decide about retaining of benefits such as health insurance, other insurance coverages and financial settlements. The decision about the family home, mortgage payments, home utility bills and maintenance, real estate decisions and divisions, joint bank accounts also has to be taken.

In case of property division, you need to consider whether the state is equitable distribution or community property state. You need to determine the property division accordingly. In an equitable distribution state, the state divides the property equitable between both the spouses regardless of who has acquired the property. Only the individual property is not divided and remains with its owner. In case where the state is a community property state, the property division is 50 50.

A separation agreement covers the following topics:

  • Maintenance for the dependent partner and minor children A supporting partner is supposed to pay for the day-to-day expenses and survival of the dependent partner and the minor children. These expenses consist of all the expenses right from household expenses to the education and daily expenses of children. They are also supposed to pay for any course that the dependent spouse needs to complete so as to be self-sufficient.
  • Splitting of money, property and possessions The division of money earned by both the spouses has to be done according to the earning ability of the dependent spouse as well as the earning capacity of non-custodial and supporting spouse. The division of property comprising of real estate, family home and other property acquired over the years that the couple has been married has to be done according to the custody and support agreement. The possessions such as the clothes, jewelry and equipments remain with the spouse who owns them regardless of who has paid for them.
  • Custody of Children The custody of children is generally handed over to the spouse who earns more than the other spouse. The earning is taken into consideration so that the court can ensure whether the custodial spouse will be able to provide the children with the basic necessities, education and the lifestyle they were used to have when the parents lived together.
  • Any other conditions Besides these important topics, the other conditions such as emergency medical expenses, extraordinary health care services required are to be decided by the couple according to the convenience of the children and the wishes of the parents.

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