Filing a Marital Separation Agreement

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What is a Marital Separation Agreement?

A marital separation agreement is an agreement between a husband and wife to settle important issues that arise when a couple decides to separate or divorce. These issues include dividing jointly owned property, providing spousal support and providing child support.

Must a Marital Separation Agreement Be Filed in Court?

A marital separation agreement does not have to be filed in court to be legally binding on the husband and wife. The agreement is basically like a contract between two people. As long as the husband and wife are legally able to enter into a contract, they can make a marital separation agreement.

If the couple decides to get a divorce, they can ask the court to make the marital separation agreement part of the final judgment legalizing the divorce.

How Can a Marital Separation Agreement be Enforced?

If the couple does not file the agreement in court, it is still enforceable like any other contract. This means that if either spouse violates the agreement somehow, the other spouse can sue for breach of contract and recover money damages.

If the agreement was made a part of the final divorce judgment, it becomes an official court order. Like other court orders, if it is violated by either spouse, he or she can be held in contempt by the court.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Draft a Marital Separation Agreement?

Each couple's situation involves different issues that must be taken into account when the couple separates. A family law attorney can assist you in the many processes involved in a legal separation, including drawing up a marital separation agreement, and helping you decide whether to file it in court.

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Last Modified: 12-07-2012 04:02 PM PST

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