Sometimes couples aren’t ready to divorce for one reason or another. Maybe they want a trial separation to see what it’s like or if they can repair their marriage during that time. Perhaps they don’t want the potential religious or social stigma of getting a divorce. Or maybe they want to live apart now while they go through the divorce process.
Whatever their reasons for wanting a separation, it’s crucial for them to have a separation agreement. This agreement helps protect both parties, their children, and their assets. A knowledgeable Maryland family law attorney can help them draft one that will be enforceable.
What Is a Separation Agreement?
Couples who want a separation can privately enter into an oral or written agreement to live apart. The agreement is typically referred to as a marital settlement agreement, separation agreement, or property settlement agreement. Suppose the couple ends up getting divorced, and the ground for their divorce is voluntary separation. In that case, their separation agreement can be used as evidence to obtain the divorce.
What Should a Separation Agreement Include?
A separation agreement should include the following:
- The care, custody, and support of the couple’s children – Where will they live? Who will pay for their expenses? Will the parent they don’t live with get visitation? What will the visitation schedule look like? Who will provide them with transportation? Will one spouse pay the other child support for the care of the children?
- The amount of support one spouse will contribute to the other – Will one spouse pay spousal support to another? Will one continue to pay certain bills?
- Provisions for the continuation of health insurance benefits – If the health insurance is under one spouse, these provisions can ensure the continued benefits of the other spouse and the children.
- The division of property while the two spouses live apart – Will one spouse remain in the family home? What will happen to their vehicles? What will happen to the property if they do get divorced?
However, a separation agreement doesn’t terminate the marriage contract or make the spouses free to remarry or commit adultery.
How Do You Enforce a Separation Agreement?
If one spouse violates a settlement agreement, the other has the legal right to file a lawsuit for violation of the agreement, as the violation is a breach of contract.
Suppose the couple wants the family court to enforce their agreements. In that case, they should have the separation agreement incorporated, but not merged, into the divorce decree.
Maryland family courts generally honor the parties’ agreements made in the separation agreement. However, at its discretion, the court may modify any provisions regarding the children’s care, custody, education, maintenance, and support to protect their interests.
Can a Separation Agreement Be Revoked?
Either party can revoke the separation agreement with a second agreement in writing or if the parties live together again as spouses. However, living together doesn’t automatically rescind the agreement; it’s simply evidence of the intention to revoke it.
Call a Skilled Maryland Family Law Attorney Today
If you have questions or need more information about what to include in your separation agreement, it’s in your best interests to contact a skilled Maryland family law attorney today. They can answer your questions, address your concerns, and ensure you have the best possible separation agreement for you and your children.