Whether you are separating in anticipation of a divorce or for any other reason, you may be wondering what a separation agreement, also called a Separate Maintenance Agreement, can do for you. Generally, this type of agreement is a binding contract signed by spouses setting out the terms of a legal separation.
If you are trying to understand how a Gwinnett County legal separation agreement works, a team of practiced lawyers can help. A detail-oriented family lawyer can work with you to create a comprehensive agreement that protects your interests.
A separation agreement will generally address the same issues that are typically addressed in a final divorce decree. In fact, a separation agreement often becomes part of a final divorce decree if and when the parties eventually do decide to divorce. Some of the issues addressed include:
When a party is able to agree on all terms of a separation agreement it will streamline the divorce process, if divorce is ultimately what is best. If parties agree on the major issues, it can become the terms of a divorce settlement agreement fairly quickly and relatively easily. If a couple who wishes to legally separate does not have a separation agreement, a judge will have to decide these issues, which can be a very lengthy and expensive process.
While a separation agreement can outline how the parties will handle important issues and allow them to live apart, it does not legally terminate the marriage. Some parties may wish to live separately and independently but remain legally married. Some couples choose to do this because they do not believe in divorce or because they wish to keep the benefits of legal marriage such as health insurance or tax benefits. It is important to note, however, that the applicability of insurance and tax benefits will vary between each case. A legal separation will not always guarantee that you will be able to maintain your insurance or tax benefit status. It is important to talk to the right professionals to decide the best course of action for your specific situation.
If one party does not agree with the terms of a marital separation agreement, they should not sign it. Both parties must sign the agreement voluntarily. An indication of coercion or fraud will cause the agreement to be invalid.
If one spouse proposes an agreement and the other does not agree with the terms, they should consult with their own independent counsel. They may need some assistance with negotiating an agreement that is agreeable to both parties. If a couple is unable to come to a mutual agreement, the case may have to go to hearing. This can be a long and complex process, which is why it is important to work on separation agreements with a knowledgeable attorney in Gwinnett County from the beginning.
If you are considering a divorce or living apart from your spouse, you may want to consider legal separation. A separation agreement, or agreement for separate maintenance, can clarify the rights and responsibilities of each party and can make an eventual divorce smoother.
A legal separation lawyer in Gwinnett County can answer your questions regarding separation agreements. Together you can determine whether a separation agreement is right for you.
Atlanta Divorce Law Group