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Marriage Separation Agreement

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Marriage Separation Agreement

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Learn more about Marriage Separation Agreement

Some couples choose not to divorce or choose to separate for a time before they petition for a divorce or dissolution of marriage. A Marriage Separation Agreement outlines how assets, debts and children will be managed during the separation.

  • You and your spouse have decided to separate and agree on how to divide your property and assets.
  • You and your spouse are considering a divorce and want to separate before making a final decision on ending the marriage.
  • You are contemplating a legal separation and would like to set preliminary terms for a division of property.
  • You plan to meet with an attorney regarding a legal separation and would like to be prepared with an outline for the division of property and finances.

Our document builder will guide you through the process of making a Separation Agreement. It outlines important details such as who will live in the family home, who pays which bills, if spousal support will be offered, and child custody arrangements.

Separation Agreement, Marital Settlement Agreement, Marital Separation Agreement, Legal Separation Agreement

A Marriage Separation Agreement includes many of the same terms as a divorce decree, including the following:

  • Who will retain possession and use of the marital home
  • Who will be responsible for the expenses of the marital home (mortgage, utilities, insurance)
  • If legal separation is converted to a divorce who will pay for the expenses of the marital home
  • How will assets and debts acquired during the marriage be divided including property, financial and retirement accounts, vehicles, insurance, debts, and business or corporate interests
  • Whether spousal support will be offered
  • Whether or not spousal benefits, such as medical insurance, will continue during the separation and who will pay for them
  • The terms of child support, custody and visitation rights (see Parenting Plan)

Once a divorce is finalized by the court (usually when the court issues a divorce decree) the marriage is terminated. However, with a Marriage Separation Agreement, even if it is legally binding, you will still be legally married.

The following are common reasons for seeking a separation instead of a divorce:

  • A couple may not be emotionally ready for a divorce.
  • The couple may object to divorce for religious, social or moral reasons.
  • A couple may not want to live together but do not want a divorce.
  • A couple may want to retain medical insurance, governmental or tax benefits that may continue because the couple is still considered to be married although living separate lives.
  • A couple resides in a state that requires a separation period before the couple may file for divorce.
  • If you are going to pay spousal support during separation, having a Legal Marriage Separation Agreement is required to enforce payment.
  • A couple wants to finalize separation of property and finances and other terms before starting a divorce proceeding.

Please note that choosing to have a legally binding Marriage Separation Agreement is not necessarily faster or less expensive than filing for a divorce. You may want to consult with an attorney to help you assess your options.

Both parties must sign the agreement in front of a notary public. Each spouse should retain a copy of the signed agreement. You may access a copy of the unsigned agreement using your Rocket Lawyer account. Members who would like to have a digital copy of the signed agreement saved to your Rocket Lawyer account, may simply scan and upload it.

Whether a Marriage Separation Agreement is legally binding depends on the laws of the state in which you lived during the marriage. Most states recognize Legal Separation Agreements. However, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania and Texas do not recognize legal separation. But even though these states do not recognize legal separation the Marriage Separation Agreement can function as a legally binding contract between the spouses. Some states require that you file your Marriage Separation Agreement with the court seeking legal approval of its terms for the agreement to be enforceable. For example, in community property states, community property rights cannot be severed or divided unless adjudicated by a court. In other words, your agreement is not enforceable until the judge issues a court order. Other states do not require that you file your agreement with the court; instead, the agreement is a binding contract between the parties.

In most cases, for as long as you want. While many couples eventually end up filing for a divorce, some remain separated indefinitely. Some stay legally separated until one of the spouses desires to remarry. Many choose to stay officially married but separated for financial or personal reasons. Financial reasons may include health insurance, social security or pension benefits, or shared debt.

Depending on your situation, one of the following documents may help you with your separation:

If you have any questions about what's right for you, we can connect you with a divorce lawyer for quick answers or a document review.

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