Separation agreements are a type of written contract which effectuates a “legal separation”. A separation agreement sets forth how a couple will divide their debts, property and other assets without going through with a complete divorce. A legal separation agreement also might establish alimony and child support payments and provide for the legal and physical custody arrangements of minor children, if applicable.
Couples need not have filed for divorce or for separate maintenance (also called legal separation) prior to reaching a separation agreement. In fact, they may still be living together when their agreement is drafted. Separation agreements must be carefully crafted and well-written. An Alpharetta legal separation agreement lawyer can draft a workable agreement that suits the needs of you, your spouse, and your children. Contact a skilled divorce attorney right away to learn more.
Legal separation agreements may cover a wide variety of family law issues that arise during divorce and legal separation proceedings. As an Alpharetta legal separation contract attorney knows, those issues may include custody (both legal and physical), visitation, child support, alimony, the division of pensions and retirement plans, debt division, distribution of assets and real property, and responsibility for legal costs and attorney’s fees.
In the event that you are considering divorce but are still not sure that it is right for you, a separation agreement creates accountability and leaves very little doubt about money, property, or child care issues while you decide your next step. A separation agreement can also become a final settlement agreement and incorporated into your Final Decree of Divorce in the event that you do determine that divorce is right for you. A written agreement is always preferable to a verbal agreement because it leaves far less room for ambiguity or argument. A legal separation agreement is filed with the Court and is enforceable by the Court.
If the couple ultimately decides to proceed with the divorce, they will usually ask a court to merge their separation agreement into a final divorce decree. If one spouse violates a provision of the agreement, the other spouse may be able to file a civil lawsuit seeking money damages.
This means that, if the spouses decide to incorporate their separation agreement into the final divorce decree, and if the judge approves the agreement, the agreement becomes an official order of the court. As a legal separation agreement lawyer in Alpharetta knows, if one of the spouses violates a provision of the order, the other spouse could ask the court to hold them in contempt and sanction them accordingly.
A separation agreement is effective until further order of the court. However, spouses are at liberty to change their agreement if they both consent to the modification. A court may also be able to modify the separation agreement, assuming the agreement does not expressly preclude court intervention or modification.
When it comes to childcare and child custody provisions, the court always has the power to modify. When deciding whether to modify a separation agreement, the court will always consider the best interests of the minor child or children – not the best interests of the spouses.
Drafting a legally valid and effective separation contract can be challenging without the assistance of a skilled legal representative. An Alpharetta legal separation agreements lawyer can review your financial and family circumstances to help you craft a straightforward and workable spousal contract. Call our intake team today to learn more.
By: Maria K