A separation agreement is a legal agreement between two married people who have agreed to live apart for an unspecified period of time. This agreement normally covers things like child support, payment of bills, alimony, custody arrangements if there are children, and management of bank accounts. This agreement may also determine property division if it appears that the separation is going to be permanent.
Normally, this is the first step before divorce. Many couples choose to go straight to divorce, but others try to work it out or go to counseling, so they file for a separation agreement to ensure that there are some sort of “rules” for what is going to go on between them as far as money and other assets. This is especially helpful if there are children in the picture to ensure that there is some sort of stability for them in custody.
Most states recognize a separation agreement, but there are those who do not. It is important to check with your local court system or attorney to see if your state recognizes one of these agreements.
One thing that you want to keep in mind is that the separation agreement often affects the divorce agreement as well, especially as far as custody. If you want custody, be sure that you try to get it in the separation to ensure that there will be no issues further down the line.
If the couple gets back together, the agreement can be cancelled by both parties, which is why many couples start with this before moving on to divorce. This is true, especially if there is some chance of reconciliation. However, most separation agreements are just interim agreements between separation and divorce, but they can be in place for years, depending upon the couple.
If you and your spouse are having issues and considering separation, consider a separation agreement to be sure that everything is taken care of while you both decide what you are going to do.