Before beginning to think about a separation agreement, it is important to know all about the essential elements that are required by law. The basics elements that must be included are property (the ownership and divisions of property) and support obligations. If you have children, other essential components include the right to direct the education and moral training of your children, decision-making responsibility and parenting time. Any other matter that needs to be settled should also be specifically addressed in your separation agreement. It is best that everything be in one place, as well as how you will settle future disputes or other issues if they arise.
To be legally binding, your separation agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties and witnessed. It is always best to consult legal, family and financial professionals before signing a separation agreement because it can have serious lasting consequences (both good and bad) in your life. Your separation agreement will affect your future lifestyle plans and help shape your future finances, as well as significantly affecting your children.
A good separation agreement will include many different sections of information, including:
- Property Concerns: This includes how property will be divided, what will be done with the marital home, how debts will be divided and may need to impact future pensions.
- Support Obligations: Will one spouse provide support for the other? If so, how much and for how long? Under what conditions will spousal support end?
- Child Decision-Making Responsibility and Access: Parenting arrangements and child support need to be clearly laid out, as well as determining how life insurance policies will be altered or preserved to protect the wellbeing of the children.
Every separation agreement will be different because marriages and divorces are unique. Consulting with legal, family and financial professionals will protect both your short-term interests and long-term wellbeing. Never allow yourself to feel rushed into signing a separation agreement before you are comfortable with it.