Divorce can be an arduous and potentially damaging experience to those who enter into it without proper preparation. Fortunately, there’s an option for couples to finalize their agreements in a legally-binding separation agreement prior to filing for divorce. Here are just a few of the key components to what make these documents useful during the broader separation process.
1. Separation agreements make divorce much easier to initiate
Martial separation can be an extremely draining experience to both parties involved for a number of reasons. Many of these issues arise from the task of organizing asset ownership and the divvying up of property when a couple decides to separate whether it escalates to an official divorce or not. When such decisions are not made formally in writing, disputes can often erupt which only serve to complicate and prolong the separation process.
For many couples who’ve previously decided to share joint ownership of their finances and property, a separation agreement can be a pivotal first step in the broader separation process. By deciding who is entitled to what assets if a divorce is finalized, couples who are seeking a full legal separation may be compelled to go through with divorce proceedings if each party can be assured of the outcome beforehand.
2. Separation agreements can help avoid publicity
Many couples seeking a separation opt to create a preliminary agreement to mitigate the risks to personal privacy associated with divorce disputes. Where unprepared agreements can often land couples in court, a separation agreement is a way to ensure such decisions are made in private among the parties involved as well as their attorneys.
Child visitation, pension agreements, and the state of the marital home are among a few of the elements of a divorce which can be agreed upon well ahead of any final divorce decision.
3. Separation agreements keep your children out of the legal system
Disputes among separations that haven’t been finalized prior to divorce proceedings can often implicate children in the legal system. While divorces can be emotionally traumatic to children in a number of ways, embroiling your children into a courtroom situation between their parents can almost certainly be avoided by drafting a separation agreement ahead of time.
4. Separation agreements are legally binding
No matter how trustworthy you consider your spouse to be, establishing nothing more than verbal agreements regarding property, finances and visitation rights is more or less useless in a legal capacity.
Although you might have agreed on a particular division of assets, for example, there is nothing keeping one party from reneging on their side of the deal unless it was finalized in writing legally. Separation agreements are official legal records and are therefore legally binding. Even if both parties have kept their finances separate from one another, a legal agreement can keep those decisions concrete throughout a divorce proceeding.
5. You are not required to get a divorce after creating a separation agreement
Although separation agreements lay out the groundwork for a possible divorce, it’s merely a set of stipulations, which go into effect if divorce is pursued. It’s by no means the “first step” of an actual divorce––only a roadmap to what would happen if a divorce took place.
Additionally, there is no time limit between when a separation agreement is drafted and when a divorce must take place in order for the separation to stay valid.
If you are seeking divorce consultation or are in need of an attorney to assist you in maintaining your financial assets during separation, contact an experienced Beloit Family Law firm, The Fitzgerald Law Firm, today for a free consultation. We understand that meetings may not be possible during traditional business hours, so please let us know a time that works for you and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.
Photo credit: Paul Lowry