Legal separation is the perfect option for couples that want to end their marriage but are not ready to nullify it. It gives them room to rethink their decisions, and if they wish, they can reconcile their relationship.
After filing for a legal separation petition, the spouses are required to draft a separation agreement, indicating what they expect when they are no longer together. The document makes it easier to divide assets, plan finances and give children a healthy environment.
If you intend to pursue a legal separation, check out these must-have things in your separation agreement.
Distribution of Assets
How do you intend to distribute your marital assets? This is one of the hardest to solve dilemmas, especially after an ugly couple-fight.
You have to come together to discuss your properties, holdings, and assets in your joint account. The decision requires sobber minds to ensure each spouse gets an equal share or one that suits their rightful percentage.
The distribution rules vary by the type of property as follows;
Community property: The court will split the assets 50/50. And for some assets such as cars or marital homes that cannot be divided physically, the item may have to be sold for the couple to share the collected money. Or, one of them will keep the item and give the other party money that matches half the asset’s value.
Equitable Assets Division: The court considers many factors such as each spouse’s earning circumstances, how each contributed to acquiring the property, and the age and health of each spouse, to determine the correct percentage for each.
Note that the rules are different in each state. Take your time to study them before drafting the separation agreement.
How Do You Intend to Settle Debts?
Perhaps you have loans, credit cards, and liens on property you took as a couple. It will help to discuss how you will share those debts with your spouse after separation.
Things can be complicated if you have any pending debts or lawsuits. It is best to have an attorney to take you through the agreement drafting process while ensuring that none of you feels overwhelmed or like your rights have been violated.
Child Custody and Support
In whatever you do, your kids should be on top of your mind. Try to ensure that the separation does not negatively impact them. Think of how you can co-parent seamlessly to make the children feel loved even amid the storm.
Decide between legal and physical custody. This is where you agree on which parent will stay with the kids and how you intend to meet their needs. Agree on which parent will be making legal decisions for the child and how to resolve decisions regarding the kids.
Who will cater to their needs? You may choose 50/50 child custody and support. Or, one of the parents could stay with all the children depending on the proximity to their school and other amenities. Then the other parent will cater to most of their support.
Get a free legal separation agreement form on our website for further guidance on including it in the agreement.