Efficient family law practitioners know that when a marriage is on the rocks the most graceful way to move forward is by creating a separation agreement. The logic behind this is simple: decisions about custody, support, property division, and details such as where the kids will go to school are better left to the separating couple than to a judge. Figuring it out without fighting it out saves both parties time and money.
What is a separation agreement? The simple answer is that it’s a contract. It’s a contract between two parties who wish to dissolve their marital relationship and live separately. The biggest issues covered in this kind of contract are typically who will get what property and who will get custody of the kids. There are other very important matters that should be included, however. The separation agreement should also specify who pays support and in what amount. The timing and duration of such payments needs to be made clear. In most situations a separation agreement should also assign responsibilities for providing health insurance benefits, debts owed, and investment or retirement incomes. It’s worth noting that courts in both Maryland and the District of Columbia favor separation agreements.
If you are looking to relieve your marital turmoil with a separation agreement then I advise you to seek assistance from a lawyer with whom you can communicate. Creating a comprehensive and forward-looking separation agreement that you and your spouse can live with requires careful drafting. Unlike a sales contract or an employment contract, a separation agreement is a contract that covers most aspects of the separating couple’s lives for a period of time that may be measured in decades.
Matthew Baum is a Maryland attorney with offices in Baltimore, Catonsville, and Columbia. As a part of his family law practice he assists clients with creating and negotiating separation agreements. If you have recently separated from your spouse, or are planning to do so in the near future, you are invited to call (410) 929-3435 for a free consultation.