two people writing and small house in foreground

What is a Separation Agreement and is it right for you?

by Chloe Rehkamp, Paralegal to Amy L. Britt and Bradley C. Jones.

What is a separation agreement?

A Separation Agreement and Property Settlement is a private, legally binding contract between you and your spouse, which can be used to resolve a number of issues related to your separation, including distribution of property and debts, spousal support, child custody, and/or child support. The Agreement is normally signed at or around the time of separation and must be signed prior to divorce.  The Agreement must also be notarized.

Why do I need a separation agreement?

There are many benefits to settling by agreement.  A few of the major advantages are listed below:

  1. Settling by agreement is cost effective. Litigation can be expensive and requires extensive preparation.  Reaching an agreement outside of Court, will save you the cost associated with trial and the work necessary to be fully prepared for trial.
  2. Settling by agreement also saves time. The Court calendar is full.  Hearings and trials must be scheduled months in advance. If your matter cannot be reached on the day is it is set, it will be continued and is often reset months down the road.   It can take months and sometimes longer to reach a resolution.  Settling by agreement, on the other hand, gives you control over the timeline and allows for a much faster resolution.
  3. Settling by agreement allows you to maintain control over the outcome. The outcome is not up to a Judge, whose decision is not always predictable and may not be what either party wants.
  4. Settling by agreement allows for creativity. You know your family best and can come up with solutions that work for you.  For example, you and your spouse may want to include a provision for payment of your child’s college expenses.  This is not something a Judge could order in a child support matter, but it is something you and your spouse could contractually agree to do.
  5. Maybe most importantly, settling by agreement often allows the parties to remain amicable. The stress and pressure of litigation and trial, especially when children are involved, can breed hostility making it more difficult to move forward in a friendly manner. If you are able to maintain control and settle on your terms, resentment and anger can be lessened or even eliminated.

In Part 2 of this series, I will lay out what documents our attorneys would need to prepare a Separation Agreement and Property Settlement and walk you through the process.  If you would like more information about  Separation Agreements or if you are interested in scheduling a consultation with one of our attorneys,  please submit a Contact Form.