Do You Need A Family Lawyer For A Separation Agreement?

If you and your spouse or partner can agree on most details regarding your divorce or separation, you may want to formalize those decisions in a separation agreement. By forming a legal contract known as a separation agreement, you and your spouse can decide how to resolve your issues.

In a marriage or common-law relationship, either partner can initiate a separation agreement. When married, a separation agreement does not constitute a divorce. A divorce petition must still be filed with the court. Consequently, a separation agreement only allows you to decide when and how to divorce.

A separation agreement can be drafted without the assistance of legal counsel. However, before signing any contract, it would be best to consult a family lawyer from a reputable law firm in your location, such as GDH Law. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and responsibilities concerning your children and your partner and the laws that your agreement must follow to be legal.

Separation From A Legal Standpoint: What Does It Entail?

Dissolution of marriage can begin at various ages, depending on the state. The traditional definition of a ‘separation’ is when a married couple no longer lives together. Except for their children and joint assets or obligations, like a mortgage or bank account, they have no further participation in each other’s lives. Furthermore, parents usually work together to negotiate things like visitation and custody until a divorce is finalized in the state.

The Importance Of A Separation Agreement

There are numerous scenarios in which a separation agreement could prove helpful like the following:

  • It can be easier, quicker and cheaper than going to court.
  • They can share agreements with others engaged in their children’s care (such as their teachers, caregivers, and doctors.) This is an excellent method of ensuring everyone is on the same page.
  • It allows both parties to make decisions about their family’s future without having to go to court to do so.
  • It’s superior to a verbal agreement in terms of establishing what the parties agreed upon.
  • It may be submitted as a supporting document to the relevant government office for assistance in obtaining child support or spousal support if one is having trouble doing so.

However, there are circumstances in which it’s not in anyone’s best interest to create a separation agreement.

  • You have experienced relationship abuse, and now you fear being abused again.
  • You two cannot have a civil conversation, even with outside assistance.
  • Problems with substance abuse or mental health are severe.
  • If you and your partner try to work together, you’ll fail.

When Should You Create a Separation Agreement?

There’s no specified deadline by which a separation agreement must be executed. However, there are time constraints on requesting things from your partner, such as a property division. For example, you have six years from the date of separation but only two years after the divorce decision to divide the property.

Establishing a separation agreement does not necessitate consensus between you and your partner. In the meantime, you can concentrate on settling your other issues while drafting a separation agreement covering the issues on which you can reach an accord. For instance, if you and your ex can agree on decision-making authority, parenting time, and child support, you can agree to resolve those problems. Furthermore, you can continue to negotiate the split of your assets at the same time. The terms parental decision-making and time-sharing were formerly used to refer to parental custody and visitation rights, respectively.

In addition, you can form a separation agreement that’s effective for a predetermined length of time. If you and your spouse have settled on a shared custody arrangement for your children for the summer only, you may specify that it will cease in September. A new separation agreement can be made at any time if both parties agree to the terms of the previous agreement.

Legal Separation Agreements and Why You Need A Lawyer

If neither person had a lawyer, the validity of the separation agreement could be called into question. Legal advice is needed because the paperwork is hard to understand, and the procedures need to be understood by an expert. It’s possible to include spousal support in a single separation agreement. This issue, along with child custody, might be handled by someone else. As part of the agreement, the couple may have to keep their money separate from joint accounts only available at the state level. The retained counsel can shed light on all relevant details. Having a family lawyer draft your separation agreement is recommended for the following reasons:

  1. The courts rarely reverse separation agreements. Once a legally binding separation agreement has been signed before a notary public, it may be hard to get out of it or change the terms. If you sign a separation agreement without fully understanding your rights and then come to regret your decision, it may be too late to take action.
  2. A separation agreement drafted by a lawyer will be enforceable under the law. There are instances when clients come in with a separation agreement they and their spouses drafted and signed before a notary, only to discover that the agreement’s terms aren’t legally binding. Because once you have a final divorce ruling, you can’t go back to court to ask for alimony or equitable distribution (property partition); if these issues are part of your separation agreement, this could be rather significant. And just when you thought you had everything under control, you suddenly realized you didn’t.
  3. This is very significant. An agreement to separate is not something to be taken lightly. The terms of your separation agreement are unaffected by your divorce. In theory, a separation agreement can be legally binding indefinitely. The separation agreement is often seen as the final formality before the divorce. In reality, you should devote most of your time and efforts to negotiating the separation agreement because divorce should be simple and inexpensive.
  4. Legal representation retained by the opposite party will not represent your interests. A lawyer for the opposing party is NOT your lawyer. Family lawyers are prohibited from representing conflicting interests in a legal matter. During a divorce, both parties are in an antagonistic position.

If the two partners have already reached an agreement, a lawyer can draft the contract on their behalf. Individuals are in a position to make a decision based on sufficient information. Not unless the other partner has legal representation as well. Even if you and your spouse’s attorney work together to form a separation agreement, you should still have your legal counsel evaluate it to ensure it doesn’t contain any potentially harmful provisions. A lawyer’s evaluation of your contract before you sign it is well worth the cost.

  1. You are ignorant of your legal rights. As harsh as it may sound, many people sign documents without fully understanding their rights, such as when it comes to property partition or spousal support. If you agree to pay alimony that you don’t have to pay or give up alimony that you may be entitled to, it could cost you a lot of money. This is especially prevalent in real property cases, where one party’s name may be on the deed or title. Still, it does not guarantee that person would keep the house or vehicle in case of a divorce or death.


How A Family Lawyer Can Help

Regardless of the type of divorce you decide to pursue, legal representation from a reliable lawyer is a must. They contribute a great deal of expertise and knowledge gained over many years and can do the following:

  • Detail your legal protections.

Having a family lawyer on your side can help you understand the full range of your legal options and the consequences of each one. In addition, they can provide precise legal guidance to help you handle any concerns you may have.

  • Set up your contracts in advance.

A family law attorney can help you draft a separation agreement. When a compromise has been reached, it will be formalized in a written contract. They ensure it’s reasonable by reviewing it and leaving out anything that can’t be followed. Notably, lawyers specializing in family law can also assist during a divorce.

  • Discuss the terms and reach a compromise.

A family lawyer is a skilled negotiator who can advocate on your behalf. Your family lawyer can clear up any confusion you may be feeling. Also, your lawyer will be able to catch up on any crucial nuances in the bargaining process that you might miss. They guarantee the divorce is amicable and that both parties are treated equally during the negotiation process.

The Summary

Anxiety and intense emotions are common throughout the entire process. Typically, most couples who are separating with the aim of reconciling in the future and avoiding divorce will consult a family attorney to draft a separation agreement. Furthermore, a family lawyer can help clients stabilize their finances, parental rights, and child visitation schedules, given their emotional and anxious state.

A competent attorney will help advance your case by explaining your legal choices. Additionally, they will be able to address issues that could harm the case in the future. After understanding one’s legal rights and options, sensible action is possible. Your family lawyer can also guide you through the expenditures associated with the divorce to ensure that no one is left holding the bag. Moreover, the client will find it valuable as they go forward after separation. After all issues have been settled and the clients have amicably separated, they may focus on their lives and their children without harboring anger for one another.