Contrary to Popular Belief, a Divorce Can Go Smoothly: 4 Separation Agreement Facts You Probably Didn’t Know
A separation agreement is a contract that couples may sign to split or live separately while married without actually divorcing. Separation agreements typically involve deciding who pays what bills, who gets to keep what property, and the like. However, when it comes to a separation agreement, many don’t fully know the full legal implications that come along with such.
If it’s not a marriage and not a divorce, then what does a separation agreement entail? Let’s discuss some facts about separation agreements to get more acquainted with such.
1. You and your partner can live in the same house and still be separated.
Some people presume that when both couples agree to a separation that it means they must live on separate properties. This is false. Some couples decide to live under the same roof during their separation, often for the purpose of raising children as co-parents. But both parties, of course, must agree to live on the same property with one another.
Property isn’t the only concern when it comes to a separation agreement. Other legal aspects may include agreeing on how children will be parented, who will be responsible for debt, and so on.
2. With a separation agreement, the marriage is still intact, but there are different legal bounds that make it different from both a marriage and a divorce.
A popular misconception regarding a separation agreement is that separating is essentially the same as divorcing in terms of what is agreed upon (e.g., child custody, etc.). However, separation and divorce vary.
Child custody, visitation rights, and child support tend to be the same between a separation and a divorce. But one way a separation agreement varies is that the wife may not be able to take her maiden name back. Additionally, as a separated couple is still married, tax and benefit statuses may be retained. In order for assets to be permanently split, divorce is necessary.
3. In some states, neither you nor your partner can remarry while legally separated.
While both parties decide to separate mutually, in some states, not even a mutual agreement will allow one of the separated spouses to remarry a new spouse. This is because some states do not recognize a separation as a complete divorce. That said, think of a separation agreement as a limited divorce or something that may potentially lead to divorce, not an actual divorce.
If a spouse decides to remarry someone else, a divorce will have to be completed first. In some states, if you remarry while in a legally-separated relationship, you will be fined and/or jailed for having two spouses. Even just dating someone else is considered adultery in some states such as Maryland. That said, you can be charged if there is proof of an intimate relationship.
4. A separation agreement can last as long as you and your partner wish or can also be terminated.
When many think of a separation agreement, they think of it as something temporary that couples go through to decide whether or not they want to divorce. Most separations do in fact end in a divorce, but a separation agreement can also last for life if a couple agrees to. There is no limit in which a separation has to end.
Keep in mind, though, that if you and your spouse decide to complete a divorce after legally separating, states may have a length of time in which separated couples can begin the divorce process. Many states require a waiting period of six months or a year.
There are many misconceptions regarding a separation agreement. However, the process is different for each couple. A separation agreement, while it may lead to a divorce, doesn’t have to. Some couples decide to stay separated while others may decide to remarry one another. In the end, one separation agreement may not be the same as another. It’s very personalized.