Like any relationship, marriages may encounter problems. Instead of divorcing under such circumstances, some partners might opt to separate for a specific period of time to decide if remaining together is the right move. When these conditions present themselves, impacted spouses might choose to draft a separation agreement to formalize certain aspects of their split.
Separation agreements cover many important topics and are made official only after the parties involved follow specific legal procedures. As such, assistance from a family attorney can be key to drafting a thorough and enforceable agreement. A Gwinnett County separation agreement lawyer from our firm may be able to assist you if you are contemplating such an arrangement with your spouse. If you would like to learn more about how a potential separation agreement could be beneficial, contact a skilled marital agreements attorney to start discussing your options.
A separation agreement is a type of marital contract that is similar in certain aspects to prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements. Unlike these other arrangements, though, spouses enter separation contracts when they wish to legally separate or divorce, rather than immediately before or at some point after they get married.
Should a couple opt to separate or divorce, they have the option to resolve certain legal and financial issues privately before a court must intervene and do so for them. Some issues a Gwinnett County lawyer could help a separating spouse address in an agreement include:
The first thing drafting a pre-separation contract does is provide a great deal of organization and structure to a legal separation. The process of adopting this contract provides a forum for potentially complex issues to be identified, debated, and settled in a way that suits both parties.
Such organization might also help prevent future conflicts from developing. Should spouses agree to resolve specific matters through a separation agreement, they may be able to avoid potentially difficult or harsh disagreements that might complicate or delay a future separation or divorce process.
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.
In accordance with the Official Code of Georgia §19-3-66, separation agreements are recognized and enforceable once a court analyzes and affirms them. Accordingly, those who enter such arrangements are legally bound to follow the stipulated guidelines and provisions. However, signatories must abide by specific legal procedures to ensure their agreement is valid.
Spouses planning to draft separation agreements must disclose all critical issues the contract should cover, including all their assets and liabilities. Failure to disclose these matters, or any attempt to intentionally obscure them, may invalidate a separation agreement wholesale.
It is unlikely that both spouses will immediately agree over every specific contractual matter and how they should be resolved. Fortunately, separation arrangement lawyers in Gwinnett County are skilled at handling the negotiation process that typically follows. This stage will last until both sides reach a mutual agreement regarding all pertinent subjects.
After reaching a separation agreement in principle, separating spouses must then sign the drafted document. Once they formally endorse it, the signing parties submit the contract to a court for approval. Upon receiving that approval, the agreement becomes official
As mentioned previously, though, there may be certain circumstances under which a court might deem a separation contract void or invalid. These include evidence demonstrating that the document contains fraudulent endorsements or that one party agreed to specific stipulations under duress or because of intimidation.
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 our area from the beginning.
Making the decision to legally separate or divorce is never an easy one. However, a thorough and valid separation agreement might make the process less stressful and more efficient. If you are considering a separation arrangement, speak with a Gwinnett County separation agreements lawyer today about the best way to pursue a positive outcome that forwards your best interests.
Atlanta Divorce Law Group