A legal separation agreement is a contract between couples who have agreed to part ways. The contract will outline details of the separation. One element that most couples will include in the document is child custody and maintenance. In this article, we look at aspects of legal separation and its implications for divorce and custody.
How a Separation Agreement can Help
A legal separation agreement can address issues such as custody, child maintenance, and support to ensure you separate amicably. With the contract in hand, you don’t have to go to court to resolve such issues. You’ll be saving the money and time you would spend on litigation fees in a family law court.
The details in the agreement may include:
- Child custody and housing
- Child maintenance and support
- Access to the children
- Settling debts and property division after separation
Who Is It Meant For?
A legal separation is ideal for spouses who can agree on the terms of their break up without going to court. Some couples may opt for it because their religion prohibits divorce. Others may choose the contract when they need some time off to reconsider their commitment.
However, it may be better to settle some complex litigation issues in court. If there are problems with custody that you can’t agree on, you can consult a divorce lawyer.
Can a Legal Separation Agreement be Rejected?
A legal separation agreement allows you to agree on the details of your separation. If the agreement is valid, a court of law can enforce it and compel the other party to fulfill the terms. However, some situations could compel the judge to reject it.
A family law court may not recognize the contract if it doesn’t look after the best interest of the child. Additionally, the separation agreement will be declared void if one of the spouses does not disclose their assets. It could also be rejected if the court perceives the contract to be unfair to one of the parties. Finally, it may be rejected if one of the parties signed the agreement under duress. To this end, the judge might ask a number of questions regarding the agreement you signed to ensure you understand all the details and implications. The reason the court does this is to minimize the chances of the separating couple appearing again in court requesting modifications or more.
Separation and Divorce
After separating, the couple can always go back to living together. Under those circumstances, it is generally understood that the agreement becomes void. Nonetheless, you can include provisions in the agreement that it will not be void should you get back together.
Tennessee is a no-fault state, which after a year, you can get a divorce on the sworn statement alone. You may also seek a divorce before one year elapses, as long as you’ve been living under the terms of the contract. However, issues of child custody and maintenance can be reviewed from time to time, based on circumstances.
Working with Divorce Lawyers
It is advisable to hire an attorney for the legal separation agreement to ensure it is not rejected. Both parties should each hire a divorce lawyer; otherwise, the judge will review the contract more closely for bias.
A legal separation agreement can save both parties time and money by avoiding lengthy litigation processes. You should consider hiring an attorney to make the most of the process. However, this should not be treated as legal advice but rather as an informative piece. For more on how to proceed with your Legal Separation Agreement, please consult Samuel B. Tipton, Attorney at Law.