Marital Separation Agreement Template

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A separation agreement covers essential aspects of the separation to address issues that can include parental responsibility, distribution of assets, and alimony. Answer simple questions to this separation agreement template on Lawrina and get a pre-built PDF document to your device in minutes.
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Before creating the document...

Legal separation may not be recognized in US states, such as Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Texas. In these states, the Separation Agreement will not be approved by a court and will not be enforceable in case of disputes.

Сonsider alternative agreements such as the Postnuptial Agreement and the Petition for Support for the aforementioned states.

A separation agreement template is used to create a legally binding contract between individuals in a legal marriage that defines the terms of their separation. The separation agreement covers essential aspects of the separation to address issues that can include parental responsibility, distribution of assets, and alimony. Below, you’ll find information needed to prepare a well-drafted separation agreement with stipulations tailored to your situation. 

Parties of the Separation Agreement

Two individuals from a marriage who are working out the details of their separation or divorce are the parties to a separation agreement as follows:

  • The first party is the person who wants to separate or file for divorce or annulment. As a general rule, this person envisions how the spouses should approach the process. This spouse may start the process of negotiating and documenting the terms of the couple’s separation to be included in a separation agreement.

  • The second party to the separation agreement is the other individual who is part of the marital union or civil partnership. Though this spouse might not have started the process, his or her input and concurrence are necessary to ensure that the process is fair and lawful. 

Key Terms

Some common terms that can be found in a separation agreement are:

  • Marital assets — These are the property, financial accounts, or personal belongings acquired by either spouse during the marriage.
  • Community property — This term refers to property owned jointly by both spouses that will generally be divided upon the couple’s divorce. 
  • Equitable distribution — This is a legal principle under which marital assets and debts are divided fairly, not necessarily equally, between the spouses as part of a divorce or separation.
  • No-fault divorce — This type of divorce does not require one spouse to prove that the other did something wrong, necessitating the divorce. 
  • Separate property — This term refers to assets belonging to one spouse only and not subject to division in a divorce or separation.
  • Annulment — This legal procedure is used to declare a marriage null and void as if it had never existed.
  • Prenuptial agreement — This is an arrangement that couples can make before marriage to establish each spouse’s property and financial rights in the event of a divorce.

What To Include in a Separation Agreement

A free blank separation agreement template will include space for the following information to be inputted as applicable:

  1. Names and details of the parties — Fill in the full names and addresses of both spouses.

  2. Date of separation — Indicate the effective date of the couple’s separation.

  3. Alimony — Outline any spousal support arrangements agreed to by the parties, indicating the amount and payment frequency. 

  4. Spousal support waiver — The parties may opt to include a clause stating that each spouse waives any claim to spousal maintenance or interest in any benefits, pension, savings, retirement, or profit sharing plans at the point of the divorce or separation or in the future.  

  5. Child support — If the couple has children together, provide financial support for the minor children, indicating which parent will pay, the amount to be paid, the schedule, and the payment method. 

  6. Division of real or personal property — Outline how assets — real estate, investments, and other valuables — will be distributed between the spouses. As applicable, provide an itemized list of the assets, their valuation, criteria for allocation, and timelines for transfer. 

  7. Division of debts — Outline how the couple intends to handle financial liabilities incurred during the marriage. List the debts, allocate responsibility to either spouse, and provide a payment schedule. Joint debts can be shared between the parties or may be named the sole responsibility of one of the parties. 

  8. Dispute resolution — Indicate how the couple will resolve disagreements arising out of the implementation or interpretation of the separation contract. The separation agreement may cite platforms like mediation, arbitration, or other mechanisms for dispute resolution as their preferred method. 

  9. Amendment — If the parties acknowledge that some circumstances around the separation agreement may change, the contract should specify the conditions under which they can amend the agreement in writing through subsequent separation agreements. Indicate the procedures and mutual consent required to effect changes.

  10. Effect of reconciliation — Explicitly stipulate that the terms of the separation agreement continue to hold force and effect following any reconciliation between the spouses unless there is a mutual decision to revoke the agreement through a written document signed by both parties.

  11. Freedom from interference — The separation agreement should affirm that each party has the space to engage in any employment, business, or profession without interference, restriction, or control of the other party. 

  12. Custody and parenting plan — Identify the one parent with primary custody, visitation schedule for the other parent, and how the spouses will make decisions concerning the welfare of the children. If there is a court order for the custody of children, the separation agreement should include the relevant details.

  13. Voluntary execution — The separation agreement should indicate that the parties are of sound mind and have entered into the agreement of their own volition and without any fear. 

  14. Future changes and modifications — Stipulate the process of modifying the document and the circumstances that may trigger such occasions. 

  15. Court submission and incorporation into a divorce decree — Provide that, if either party shall apply for a divorce and the court shall grant the same, the agreement shall be submitted to the court for approval and, once approved, incorporated into a divorce decree. 

  16. Post-agreement debt liability — Stipulate that either party shall not incur any further debt or liability using the other party’s credit.

  17. Governing law — Indicate the state jurisdiction that will govern the interpretation and implementation of the separation agreement. 

  18. Signatures and dates — Each party must sign and date the document to confirm consent to the terms of the agreement. 
Insight

The court will pay close attention to any child-related clauses in the separation agreement. A judge will seek to ascertain that the document covers all the necessary aspects of the child’s physical, emotional, and psychological needs to safeguard the child’s best interest and comply with relevant law. Therefore, it is important that the parties give extra care when making arrangements for their children’s welfare after separation. 

How To Write a Separation Agreement

When a married couple decides to live apart or initiate divorce proceedings, the spouses may use a legal separation agreement template to manage their affairs during this period. When filled out carefully, the template printable do it yourself separate agreement can provide much-needed clarity and significantly minimize the risk of disagreements. Use the following guide to create a separation agreement.

Negotiate All Basic Information With the Other Party

Discuss all the issues that you need to agree on and document the specifics in the separation agreement template. Important facts to note include the children’s ages and each party’s age, health status, reasons for separation, income levels, existing assets, financial liabilities, and other dynamics unique to the union.

For each of these considerations, both spouses must be able to articulate their concerns and preferences regarding how they would like them addressed in the separation agreement. A collaborative approach ensures that the document will reflect the mutual promises and intentions of the parties but also contribute to a more amicable separation.

State Clearly the Division of Shared Responsibilities

The separation agreement template will help to clarify the responsibilities both parties will undertake after separation. Consider the roles and responsibilities each spouse handled to safeguard the well-being of the family during their time together. Considering this, the separation agreement template should include explicit provisions regarding each party’s responsibilities. Some of the main responsibilities to document include primary legal custody of the children, child support payments, alimony, and other financial obligations.

State Clearly the Division of Finances and Liability

Finances can be one of the most contentious issues in a separation. Therefore, it’s critical to have a separation agreement that comprehensively addresses the division of assets and debts and how the spouses intend to handle ongoing expenses. A separation agreement template can be used to draft clear guidelines on how the couple will resolve the financial elements of their separation. 

Clarifying Spouse Interests in Real Property

Within the context of the law, real property encompasses land and anything permanently affixed to it, such as houses. Separate property refers to assets that one spouse owned prior to or acquired during the marriage via inheritance or gifts. In a separation agreement, the spouses must distinguish between these property types. 

However, in specific scenarios, the court may recognize some property or assets that are registered under one spouse’s name as marital and not separate property. For this type of property, the agreement should reflect the intentions behind having the property in the name of only one spouse and the extent to which the other spouse should earn income from such property, even without ownership or property rights. Property rights constitute the entitlement to utilize, manage, and transfer ownership. Understanding these rights can help couples determine what a spouse is entitled to against the property that has been held separately. 

The division of their property necessitates a consensual agreement between the parties or, in instances of discord, a court ruling. A joint plan for evaluating the value of such property can help to ensure that the division reflects the current market value and is fair to both parties. Further, once the separation agreement is signed and is in force, if one spouse dies without leaving a will, the surviving spouse may not be entitled to the estate.

Writing a Separation Agreement Form: Tips & Tricks

Peace of mind comes with knowing that you’ve covered the essentials of your separation. Minimizing uncertainties and having a clear roadmap for life post separation can be reassuring. The foundation for this assurance lies in drafting a comprehensive separation agreement. 

Consider the following tips and tricks for writing an effective separation agreement that caters to the necessities and objectives of both parties: 

  1. Use a template — Using a separation agreement template as a starting point can be immensely beneficial. Use the template as a guide to avoid missing critical components and to include the appropriate legal terminology and structure for a binding contract.

  2. Build consensus — Commit to amicably collaborating with the other party. The process becomes more cost-effective and less emotionally draining when an agreement can be reached without court intervention. By avoiding contentious legal battles, spouses can work toward mutually beneficial terms, saving resources and fostering a more positive post-separation relationship.

  3. Address all fundamentals and expectations — Make it a priority to comprehensively cover all necessary facets of life within the separation agreement. By accounting for everything from the division of property between the parties to the children’s custody, the parties to the separation agreement can create a solid framework for a smoother transition.

  4. Keep emotions in check — Emotions can easily cloud judgment. Stay focused on the facts and be kind, respectful, and objective.

  5. Seek legal advice — Even if using a free separation agreement template, the spouses may want to have an attorney review the document. An attorney can offer invaluable advice on ensuring that the agreement will comply with state law and safeguard each spouse’s interests.

  6. Reach mutual consent — Ensure that both parties concur with the terms of the agreement and that no one feels coerced into signing the document.  

Remember that the primary goal of a separation agreement is to provide clarity and stability during a time of change. Properly preparing this document can save both parties time, money, and stress in the long run.

When To Use a Separation Agreement

Use a separation agreement to set expectations and assign each spouse responsibilities during the period of separation. Streamline the contract writing process by working with a separation agreement template that includes the appropriate sections and legal language to make the contract binding and enforceable. A separation agreement template in Word allows the parties to fill in their details and other variable information, including names, date of separation, marriage date, children (if applicable), spousal support, and other factors according to the unique nature of the couple’s life together.  

Common Use Cases

Depending on the type of separation, utilizing a separation agreement template can be highly beneficial. For a trial separation, during which a couple lives apart to assess their relationship, the template can help to frame temporary terms for finances and child custody. In the case of a legal separation or divorce, for which the spouses file the agreement with the court to validate their separation or divorce, the document will outline enforceable legal obligations and rights.

Lastly, during a divorce process, the separation agreement can be used as a framework, guiding the negotiation and settlement of issues like asset division and alimony until the divorce is finalized. The contract provides structure, clarity, and fairness for spouses transitioning through the different stages of separation and divorce.

When Not To Use a Separation Agreement

Depending on the circumstances leading to the separation or divorce, there are situations when a separation agreement is not possible. Such circumstances include:

  • Abuse;
  • Non-cooperative partner;
  • Manipulation or coercion to sign an agreement; or 
  • Disagreements on custody and division of property. 

Remember that a separation agreement is not a legal requirement to divorce or separate from a spouse. Therefore, if there is any reason why the parties cannot agree, they can always let the court decide. 

Also Read

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a separation agreement need to be notarized?

Whether a separation agreement needs to be notarized depends on the requirements of the state in which the parties execute the agreement. In some states, notarization is mandatory, serving as an additional layer of authentication. In others, notarization is customary but not legally required. Consider asking an attorney or reviewing state statutes for more information about the requirements for a separation agreement in your jurisdiction.

Leveraging a separation agreement template that aligns with state regulations can streamline the process. An attorney-drafted template will include the necessary provisions and formatting for notarization if required by law. Crafting a separation agreement without legal guidance or a well-structured template may lead to having an agreement that omits essential provisions or contains stipulations not aligned with relevant law. 

Can you get a divorce without a separation agreement?

A couple can get a divorce in most states without first having a separation agreement. Contrary to what some might think, having a separation agreement is not a condition for divorce in the eyes of the law. The agreement mainly serves to make the process more amicable, but it may not be necessary if there is no disagreement about how the spouses intend to handle their separation or divorce. Even with differences, the parties have the option of litigation, allowing a judge to decide how they will handle their separation. 

However, a separation agreement is legally binding, even in states that do not recognize legal separation, such as Delaware, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas. In these jurisdictions, separation is only a temporary period (usually six months) after which the parties must file for divorce. 

What do we do with our finances during separation?

How the couple handles finances during a divorce depends on how the finances were structured and the family dynamics. If a joint account exists, the spouses may mutually agree on how to use the funds, allocate portions to new separate accounts, or freeze the funds to prevent unilateral withdrawals.

The financial arrangements should include who takes care of the minor children and who will pay child support. If a judge must decide, he or she will ensure that the separation does not affect the lifestyle that the child was accustomed to during the parents’ marriage. The same applies when there is a significant income disparity between the spouses. Often, the higher earner may have to pay alimony to maintain the living standards of the lower earner. An attorney or financial advisor may be able to explain the financial consequences of your separation.