How to File a Marriage Separation Agreement

Unfortunately, separation and divorce are matters that many people experience. While this may be an inevitable doom for a damaged relationship, it may not be the only solution. In contrast, many people remain legally married for various reasons yet live separated.

While this is quite feasible, without legally dissolving the marriage, there are few routes that can be taken to resolve disputes. One resolution that has become increasingly common in recent years is a Marriage Separation Agreement.

While many people may understand that this is an option, most married couples are unfamiliar with the process. As a result, they are missing an opportunity to protect their assets and finances. In the majority of cases, this is a resolution that many people would undergo instead of a divorce. 

Those who choose this route often may not realize what is involved and the process of becoming legally separated from their partner. While getting a marriage separation agreement may seem to be quite complicated, it is not as difficult as you may believe. In contrast, there are several simple steps that you would need to take. 

What Is A Marriage Separation Agreement?

Many people who have not experienced separation or divorce will wonder what a Marriage Separation Agreement is and the process. Typically, this is a legal binding financial agreement between you and your spouse temporarily while you contemplate devorce.

Therefore, it is a legal-binding agreement that you both must adhere to while separated. While this is typically a step leading towards divorce, it is a resolution that many may forego without finalizing divorce proceedings. There are a variety of details that should be considered within the agreement, including:

  • Childcare arrangements, such as who has custody and when;
  • Who pays any debts, such as the mortgage, among others;
  • What happens to any financial assets that were obtained during the marriage;
  • What maintenance is paid to you or your partner, and;
  • What happens to any physical assets that were jointly owned.

While the agreement itself may vary from case to case, the majority of it will focus on each of the above. In many cases, you and your partner may be able to enter into this voluntarily, although there may be disputes. As a result, many people may need to file a petition with the court and enter into mediation and/or court proceedings, which could prolong the process. 

Steps To Getting A Legal Separation Agreement

Though many people will think that getting a separation agreement will be a long and complex process, this may not be the case. While it may be timely, it is typically not as long as divourse proceedings. There are a few steps that you’ll need to follow when filing for a Marriage Separation Agreement. 

The first of these is to ensure that you meet your state’s residency requirements, which shouldn’t be a problem for most married couples. In addition, determine whether a marriage separation agreement is recognized in your state, as this can vary significantly. For expert guidance, contact an attorney who specializes in divorce mediation.

With legal assistance, file a petition for separation, this is a  that you would typically complete with the person that you’re separating from and should include every detail as outlined above.

If you and your partner are not filing the agreement together, then you’ll need to have your spouse served with a notice. Similar to a divorce, your partner will have a certain period of time to respond. Should they agree, then you can skip several steps. Should they not, there are a few things that can be done.

The first is that your spouse may file a counter-petition that highlights what they agree to. Once this is done, you and your partner will enter into a mediation service, with the end result being a mediation separation agreement. However, there have been cases where this may not help you and your spouse come to an agreement. In such case, you would need to appear before a judge, who will make a ruling on the separation. If this occurs, then it could be as complicated as getting a divorce.

Should your spouse agree to your initial petition, then you’ll both need to sign the agreement and have it notarized. Once this has been done, it will be brought before the courts to be approved by a judge. During this time, the judge will review and sign the petition, which will then become legally binding.

If you and your partner haven’t agreed to the petition, then the judge will make a ruling, which will subsequently become legally binding. In this case, you and your partner will have to abide by the agreement as laid out. This is because it is considered a contract that you are both expected to follow.

It is recommended that you keep a copy to ensure that you and your partner know what’s expected of you. While each of the above steps should be all that is needed to enter the agreement, this can vary slightly from state to state. As such, extra research may be required.