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A Separation Agreement and Property Settlement is the phrase most often used to describe a contract between a husband and wife that resolves all issues arising out of the parties’ marriage, with the exception of the actual divorce itself. The parties can reach agreements on matters such as the division of their marital assets and debts, custody and support of their minor children, spousal support and waiver of rights in the other spouse’s estate. There are many advantages to resolving family law issues in a Separation Agreement, including privacy, control, and time and expense.
A Separation Agreement is a private contract between the parties and it will not be submitted to the Court for incorporation into a court order unless the parties expressly agree. This is especially important for families who operate their own companies and do not want competitors to learn critical information about their businesses or for families who have large estates or massive debt and want to keep their finances private.
Also, since a Separation Agreement is an “agreement” between the parties, the parties (rather than a judge) have control over how their assets will be divided, the term and amount of spousal support obligations and the custody provisions concerning their children. The parties can craft a Separation Agreement that meets their family’s particular needs. For example, the parties may construct what most judges would consider a unique custody and visitation schedule that serves their children’s particular needs or the parties may divide assets in a novel way in order to meet certain family financial obligations.
Negotiating a Separation Agreement is usually considerably less expensive and time consuming than litigating all family issues in a public forum, such as a courtroom. Although your lawyer will zealously advocate your position in negotiating a Separation Agreement, the process can often be less adversarial and less stressful than litigation.