If you and your spouse have discussed getting a divorce, you both may have agreed to work through a separation first. If you need to handle financial, social and emotional issues, a separation can be a good way to do so without necessarily impacting your divorce case in a negative way.
When you separate, you have time to work through financial issues, to try custody schedules out and to get used to living separately. You have time to see if your budget is working for you and if spousal support is something you or your spouse needs upon divorce.
A separation can put you in a difficult position
A separation can put you in a difficult position if you don’t have a good understanding of your marital finances. If you decide to separate, it’s important to insist on closing joint accounts and opening accounts in your own name. You should also work with your divorce attorney to put together a binding separation agreement, so that there is no question about when you separated, which assets are separate per the date of separation and what is expected from the separation.
What should you include in a separation agreement?
In a separation agreement, it’s important to include:
- Information on how you’ll handle debts while separated
- Decisions about how you’ll divide your marital assets
- Child care information
- Child support information
- Decisions about spousal support
- How you’d like to divide retirement savings
- Waivers of inheritance, if either of you needs one
Your attorney will have a list of topics that are important for you to discuss with your spouse before your separation. Once you both agree, you can sign a separation agreement to put what you decided on into motion.
Some people don’t want to go forward with divorce for religious or financial reasons. If you decide not to divorce, you can still use the legal separation agreement to protect you from debts and liabilities from your spouse. This is also something to talk about with your attorney if you would not like to pursue a divorce but do want to remain separated well into the future.