Separation agreements are civil contracts for couples with little hope of reconciliation that lay out their decision to live apart. A good domestic attorney can help you craft a fair and equitable settlement agreement that will stand up in court.
A separation agreement should provide for the following:
- The care, custody and support of the children
- The amount of support or alimony one spouse will contribute to the other
- Provisions for continuation of health insurance benefits
- The division of property while the couple are living apart, including what will happen to the property upon divorce
A separation agreement does not terminate the contract of marriage nor does it free you to remarry. In addition, you are not free to have sexual relations with another person, as this constitutes adultery. There are other intricacies involved in separation agreements that a skilled lawyer can share with you.
The separation agreement can be revoked by a second agreement in writing. Living together does not automatically revoke the agreement.
If one person violates a settlement agreement, the other may bring a lawsuit for violation of the agreement, alleging a breach of contract. To ensure enforce ability in the family courts, however, you should have the separation agreement incorporated into the divorce decree or other court order.
While the court will generally honor the agreements as written in separation agreements, the court may modify provisions affecting the care, custody, education, and support of the children in order to protect their best interests.
If you have any question about your rights, you should consult your own divorce attorney to determine whether your agreement is reasonable and fair. Do not rely on the advice of your spouse’s attorney.