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What is a Separation Agreement and what goes in it?

A Separation Agreement, contrary to its name, is not an agreement to separate.  It should be more appropriately called a Divorce Agreement since it is the final product of an uncontested divorce or a contested divorce that has been resolved through settlement and negotiations.

A Separation Agreement is a contract binding on both parties to a divorce.  It instructs the parties on all the issues that pertain to the marriage and subsequent divorce.  It then becomes a court order and the parties must abide by the Agreement or risk a Contempt action or sanctions from the court.

A typical Separation Agreement consists of the following segments:

  • Facts of the parties and marriage
  • Boilerplate language
  • Signature and notarization section
  • Exhibits

The most important parts of a Separation Agreement usually comes at the end, after the signature and notary seals and is attached as individual Exhibits.  Each exhibit deals with a very important part of the marriage and subsequent divorce.  Some examples of typical exhibits are:

  • Health insurance coverage for the parties and children
  • Alimony
  • Custody and Parenting Plan
  • Child Support and Expenses for Children
  • Educational Expenses for Children
  • Division of Property and Assets
  • Division of Debts
  • Life Insurance
  • Taxes

It is important to have a lawyer draft or at least review a Separation Agreement before it is fully executed.  Some portions of the Agreement can never be changed or modified so it is important to know exactly what the Agreement contains or what it does not contain before it is submitted to the court.

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