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Expanding Your Knowledge of Family Law

Separation Agreements: What Are They?

What is a Separation Agreement?

A Separation Agreement, which is sometimes called a property settlement agreement, is a written contract between a husband and wife which resolves matters such as property division, debt division, child custody, child support, visitation and alimony. This agreement is a legally binding contract between the husband and wife. Since all aspects relating to the relating to a marriage and the separation may be covered in a Separation Agreement is important that you never sign any agreement without consulting with an attorney. It is frequently wise and prudent to enter a Separation Agreement to settle your disputes over all of the issues from the marriage and a signed agreement not only can give you piece of mind but a properly executed agreement is enforceable by the courts should something go wrong after you have come to an agreement.

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What are the advantages of a Separation Agreement over litigation?

There are many advantages a Separation Agreement will have over the more traditional methods to dissolve the marriage (such as litigation). A Separation Agreement is a private contract between the parties and will remain private unless one party submits it to the court. Divorce is a painful enough process and many people benefit from having the details of their lives remain private. A Separation Agreement is considerably less expensive and time consuming than litigation and studies have shown than both parties are more satisfied with the results and parties will actually abide by their own agreements more consistently than with orders that are forced upon them. A Separation agreement lets the two people who are separating be in control of their own lives, including their assets and debts, their children and support and visitation issues, and length and amounts of spousal support. A Separation Agreement also allows you to creatively come to an agreement that can meet your family’s unique and individual needs.

Other facts about Separation Agreements:

In North Carolina, you do not have to sign a Separation Agreement and you do not have to have a signed agreement to be “legally separated”. It is usually a wise idea to enter an agreement to handle any issues of marital debts, the children, support and property even though it is not required. A signed and notarized agreement is enforceable by the courts; however, “verbal agreements” are not recognized by the courts and thus not enforceable. A Separation Agreement must be reached through cooperation between the two parties. You can not force your spouse to sign an agreement no matter how reasonable it is. The agreement must be signed without duress or undue influence or it may be later ruled invalid and unenforceable. If you reach an agreement with your spouse in mediation or the collaborative law process, you should still have the agreement put in the form of a Separation Agreement to gain the advantages of clarity and enforceability. Because this is a very important and binding legal document, it is vitally important that you do not just use someone else’s agreement or one from the internet without obtaining legal advice from an experienced attorney because you may end up waiving valuable rights that you had no intention of waiving. A Separation Agreement is an agreement regarding everything from your marriage and thus it is worth the time and trouble to get expert advice prior to committing yourself.

Obtaining Assistance

The Law Office of Carlton Willis has the experience and commitment to help you prepare a Separation Agreement or evaluate and advise you about an agreement prepared by your spouse. We understand that a good Separation Agreement can spare your and your family the pain and expense of litigation. Having good legal counsel prior to signing a Separation Agreement can save you thousands of dollars. We are very aware that this can be a tense process and we commit ourselves to seeing this process through with you. It we can be of any assistance with your questions or concerns, please contact us.