A growing number of married couples prefer to use a separation agreement as an alternative to divorce. A separation agreement does not legally dissolve a marriage and the spouses may reconcile at any point in the future. Couples may opt for a separation agreement instead of a divorce if they need time apart but are not ready to legally divorce based on moral or religious sentiments about divorce. Separation agreements are used to identify the separation of assets and each spouse’s rights and responsibilities upon separation.
Separation agreements address important issues such as:
- child custody
- child support
- visitation rights
- spousal support
- personal property division
- debt repayment
- possession of the marital home
- children’s education and extracurricular activities
- tax implications
- credit card use and payment
- living arrangements
Although separation agreements do not end a marriage, the decision to enter into a separation agreement should not be taken lightly. Should you and your spouse choose to divorce later on in the future, the agreement may serve as the foundation of the divorce judgment signed by a judge, and may be difficult to amend. In order to come up with a separation agreement that best serves your needs and interests, both today and in the future, it is important to work with an experienced central new york family law attorney. Writing your own separation agreement can be risky and ultimately may not be in your best interest. The experienced family law attorney at CNY Divorce & Family Law Office has over the years worked on numerous separation agreements for many clients, and is eager to answer all your questions about divorce and separation agreements.
Both couples must sign a separation agreement in order for it to be effective. If you are considering obtaining a divorce or entering into a separation agreement, or feel you are being forced into signing a separation agreement you do not like, speak with a lawyer before taking further action. The separation agreement and divorce lawyer at CNY Divorce & Family Law Office understands that the decision to seek a full-fledged divorce, or opt instead for a separation agreement, can be stressful for you and your loved ones. Attorney Nwawka recognizes that such decisions can be incredibly difficult and emotional, and can have a serious impact on your family life. CNY Divorce & Family Law attorney will counsel you on the intricacies of divorce and separation agreements, and can answer any questions you have pertaining to separation agreements or modification.
If you or a loved one is considering a separation agreement, the separation agreement attorney at CNY Divorce & Family Law Office has the knowledge and resources to help you understand the workings and legal ramifications of a separation agreement. Contact us today!
What is a Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement is an agreement between a husband and wife which sets forth the terms and conditions of the separation. Once signed, it becomes a binding contract between them. The separation agreement will resolve matters such as division of assets (marital residence, pension, 401(k), retirement accounts, etc) and debts, child custody and support. A separation agreement must be voluntary. A separating spouse cannot be compelled to sign one. An “agreement” means that both parties sign voluntarily. Coercion, fraud, undue influence, or lack of knowledge are some of the conditions that will void the terms of a separation agreement.
What can a Separation Agreement do?
A Separation Agreement can let you settle many of the issues relating to the marriage. You can divide the property between the parties (though you may have to re-title some property (automobiles, bank accounts, investment accounts) so that the transfer is legally effective. You can allocate responsibility for joint debts arising from the marriage However, this is only effective between the husband and wife, unless you can get the lender to release one party, the lender can continue to look to both the husband and wife to repay the debt.) A Separation Agreement can also resolve issues involving child custody and child support. Most separation agreements contain a clause that allows each spouse to be left alone as if single and unmarried and that forbids each spouse from harassing, molesting or interfering with the other.
What can’t a Separation Agreement do?
Since it is a contract between spouses, it cannot bind third parties (such as banks or finance companies) that have not signed it. Thus if the Separation Agreement requires that the husband pay for the car loan that is in both names, the wife remains liable for that loan unless the lending company releases her from that obligation. If the husband does not make the payments, the wife will still be responsible for the payments. A Separation Agreement cannot bind the court in areas relating to child custody and child support. The court will always look out for the best interest of the child and will be able to adjust the terms of the Separation Agreement to insure that the child’s best interest are protected.
Can I change the terms of the Separation Agreement?
Since the signed Separation Agreement is a contract, the husband and wife are free to renegotiate the terms of the Separation Agreement. However, it can be modified only if both parties agree to the new terms. Of course, a court can always order changes to the Separation Agreement, especially in areas affecting children such as child custody and child support.
What happens to the Separation Agreement when I get divorced?
In New York State, the Separation Agreement will be incorporated, but not merged, into the final divorce judgment. If this occurs, the terms of the Separation Agreement will be treated as if they were a part of the court order.