There is a great deal of conflict between you and your spouse, and you are unable to communicate in a healthy way.
You don’t trust your spouse to live up to a verbal agreement that the two of you make.
You have children and want child support, since the only way that can be enforced is with a legal court order.
You have children and need to set up a clear visitation schedule. This will also define who can be near your children while they are with your spouse, and is a crucial part of the agreement.
You need spousal support as a non-working spouse, because, again, this cannot be enforced without a legal court order.
Responsibility for paying the bills and of continued health insurance needs to be confirmed with legal reinforcement.
Drafting the Agreement
A formal separation agreement can ensure that all the family members’ needs are met, and lay out clear terms to be followed by both parties. When crafting this agreement, address each of the following terms:
- That each spouse has the right to live separately
- Who will have custody of the children and when
- A clear, detailed visitation schedule, that also dictates what access others have to the children
- Which parent will pay child support and in what amount
- Whether or not one parent will receive spousal support and in what amount
- How the children’s expenses (medical, dental, educational and recreational) will be covered
- The manner in which property and debt will be divided
- Who is responsible for insurance (medical, dental and life)
- How to handle filing income taxes
In most cases, a separation precedes a legal divorce. But this way can provide a smoother transition time or even give couples a chance for reconciliation, while still providing financial and emotional protection for each of the family members. Even if you and your spouse are still on fairly good terms, it’s important to know that a verbal agreement will not hold up in court in case of later disagreements. Stay on the safe side with a simple, comprehensive separation agreement.
Do you need counsel as you begin to draft your own separation agreement? Be sure that you are protecting yourself, your children, and your assets during this time, and seek insight from skilled family law attorneys who can anticipate needs that you may not.