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We have all heard about couples getting divorced when they are unable to settle their differences or don’t want to live with each other anymore. But, a lot of people are not aware that there is another option that can be explored; a marital separation agreement. This is an agreement made between a husband and wife for settling a number of issues that arise when they decide to go their separate ways or divorce. Some of the common issues that couples come across include the division of jointly owned property, child support, spousal support, finance management and child custody.
Unlike a divorce, it is not necessary for a marital separation agreement to be filed in court in order to be legally binding on the husband and wife. The agreement is quite similar to a contract that’s made between two people. A martial separation agreement can be made, as long as the husband and wife are able to enter into contract legally as they just have to fill out a separation agreement form. However, it should be noted that in some states, the agreement needs to be notarized in order to be deemed enforceable. Apart from that, if the couple eventually decides to get a divorce, they can request the court to make the marital separation agreement as part of the final judgement that legalizes the divorce.
Even if the agreement is not filed in court, it is still enforceable like any other contract. If the agreement is somehow violated by either of the spouses, there are two options at the disposal of the other spouse:

  • They can sue for breach of contract and get monetary damages
  • They can request the court to ask for specific performance and the breaching spouse will have no other option than to follow the agreement

In the case where the agreement is made part of the final divorce judgment, it is regarded as an official court order. This means that if it is violated by a spouse, similar to other court orders, doing so will mean that the person is held in contempt by the court. Therefore, it is best to be cautious and not break the rules of the agreement.
A lot of people wonder if they should hire an attorney when they are interested in a marital separation agreement. The truth is that every couple’s situation is different and their legal issues vary. Furthermore, the rules for every state are also unique when it comes to legal separation. For instance, the requirements for separation agreement Virginia might be different from that of another state. Hence, it might be a good idea to consult a family attorney if you are not familiar with the laws. They will be able to assist you during the steps of legal separation, which includes drawing up an enforceable agreement for marital separation and helping you decide what move to make. You should do some research and hire an experienced attorney to ensure there are no issues as you move forward.