Should you file a separation agreement before divorce?

On behalf of Jeffrey N. Greenblatt of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA posted in Divorce on Friday, September 5, 2014.

Divorce can be a complex process, especially for people that have children or have to deal with splitting up a significant amount of marital assets. Not surprisingly, there are many potentially stumbling blocks that might cause delays before the actual finalized divorce settlement is reached. Even then, the court must review and agree to accept the settlement, which can be an arduous process if the settlement is in dispute.

Maryland courts have tried to accommodate people's needs by offering different solutions, including temporary orders that might serve to keep the status quo between the divorcing parties in the time until the final divorce decree is issued. Given that the divorce process can be lengthy for reasons that extend beyond the parties' control, some divorcing parents and spouses may want to talk to their attorney about a separation agreement.

A separation agreement is particularly useful to spouses who have concerns about financial issues in the time before the divorce order becomes final. The separation agreement can order alimony or spousal support, or even keep a mischievous ex-spouse from transferring or spending money in joint bank accounts. In some cases, legal fees or other forms of financial maintenance may be ordered by the court.

Separation agreements are also useful for people with children, as they can be used to cover such topics as temporary child support, child custody and other domestic issues that may arise at or near the end of a marriage.

If the separation agreement is useful to both parties, it may become part of the ultimate divorce settlement. In other words, most spouses are going to have to deal with these topics at some point, so perhaps the sooner the better. An experienced family law attorney can help clients through the entire process, from reaching a separation agreement, filing for divorce and ultimately settling the divorce case.

Source: Maryland Courts Family law section, "Divorce," accessed Aug. 29, 2014