What Should Be In Your Separation Agreement?

Posted on: 24 May 2023

A separation agreement is a legally binding contract between spouses who have decided to separate but are not yet ready to proceed with a divorce. While the provisions in a separation agreement can vary based on individual circumstances and jurisdictional requirements, here are some provisions commonly found in separation agreements. It should be noted that the below provisions are temporary, in most cases, and expire when the divorce is final. 

  • Date of Separation: The agreement typically specifies the date when the separation officially begins. This is important for determining the duration of the separation period and other legal implications.
  • Living Arrangements: The agreement may address the living arrangements during the separation, such as who will remain in the marital home or whether both spouses will move to separate residences.
  • Child Custody and Visitation: If the couple has children, the agreement will typically include provisions regarding child custody, visitation rights, and parenting schedules. It may also address decision-making responsibilities, such as education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.
  • Child Support: The agreement should outline the financial support that will be provided for the children during the separation period, including details about the amount, payment frequency, and any additional expenses to be covered.
  • Spousal Support/Alimony: If one spouse is financially dependent on the other, the agreement may address the issue of spousal support or alimony. It can specify the amount, duration, and terms of payment.
  • Division of Assets and Debts: The separation agreement should outline how the marital property and debts will be divided between the spouses. This may include details about the division of real estate, bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts, and personal belongings.
  • Insurance and Healthcare: Provisions related to health insurance coverage for both spouses and children should be included. This may address who will maintain insurance, how the premiums will be paid, and any coverage limitations.
  • Tax Considerations: The agreement should consider the tax implications of the separation and address issues such as filing status, claiming dependents, and responsibility for taxes owed.
  • Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure: Some separation agreements include provisions that prohibit the parties from disclosing or discussing the details of the agreement or their separation from others.
  • Dispute Resolution: The agreement may outline a process for resolving disputes that may arise during the separation period, such as mediation or arbitration, instead of going to court.

Separation agreements should be drafted with the guidance of an attorney to ensure compliance with local laws and to protect the rights and interests of both parties. Each jurisdiction may have specific requirements and considerations, so consulting with a family law attorney is highly recommended to tailor the provisions to your unique situation.

For more information, contact a divorce attorney near you.