Legal Guide

What Happens After a Separation Agreement is Signed?

Separating from a spouse is never easy. It leaves many former spouses wondering how to separate from one another. For some, it means taking avenues like divorce or the dissolution of marriage.

A third alternative is spouses agreeing to sign a separation agreement.

Not many know what a separation agreement entails. In this case, it's important to understand what it involves and what happens after you both sign the dotted lines.

What is a Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement involves having a couple sign a legal contract to settle any issues related to splitting up. It allows couples to draft their own without needing to file it in court like divorce papers. But instead, ensure they have a witness to the separation agreement being signed by the couple.

If they do, however, it must be a written agreement. Verbal agreements are unreliable as it can be hard to prove what the couples agreed on. A written agreement is necessary for a separation agreement as it ensures accountability if a couple wishes to make it a legal order to be filed in court.

Furthermore, separation agreements are a viable option for unmarried couples who have lived together.

In a separation agreement, couples can outline the following details to address and resolve between themselves:

  • Living arrangements
  • How to divide property
  • How to divide debts
  • Possible spousal support payments
  • Custody of children
  • Access to children
  • Child support payments

Even though couples can draft their separation agreement, it is still a legally binding contract to be upheld. In which case, it's usually recommended to have a lawyer draft one up instead.

Why Choose to Sign a Separation Agreement?

Various reasons exist for why folks opt for a separation agreement.

  1. Efficient Process: Some couples want a clean separation from one another. However, the process of filing for divorce can be long and arduous. Signing a separation agreement would be more efficient and hassle-free for those who don't wish to draw out the process. There is nothing else to a separation agreement than drafting it and signing it. It's an easy way to address and settle issues as you separate.
  2. Cost-Effective Option: Separating couples already face financial loss from choosing to split. No longer sharing finances can have an impact. Divorce can be costly and make it harder for both parties to become financially independent again. Meanwhile, a separation agreement is more inexpensive in comparison. You can still fairly split up assets without spending a fortune on getting out of a relationship that isn't working anymore.
  3. Applies to Unmarried Couples: Laws and regulations on unmarried couples that have cohabitated are different from married couples. Thankfully, separation agreements aren't just for married folks. It can apply to common-law partners as well. A separation agreement can allow the couple to arrange assets fairly between themselves and conditions similar to a divorce.
  4. Preserves Religious Beliefs: We may live in a secular society, but many still uphold certain religious beliefs. One of them being the sanctity of marriage. Despite anyone's religious background, they can understand when a relationship is simply not working. A separation agreement can allow a couple to live out their own lives away from one another without compromising the sanctity of marriage.

What to Expect from Signing a Separation Agreement?

Some might assume that since separation agreements can be made without a lawyer, there is no real power to it. In actuality, that's not the case. The couple will have the same rights and obligations as if a court ordered the terms of the separation agreement.

Yet, some might worry that a separation agreement isn't enough to enforce its conditions. However, it's possible to have it filed with the government. In this way, you can ensure what's outlined in the separation agreement is upheld. For example, if you need child support payments. Filing out your separation agreement can help enforce a schedule of child support payments to your former partner.

In addition, unlike with divorces, you can have more wiggle room to modify the separation agreement later on. However, the contract needs to include the possibility of later modifications in its first draft.

Separating is never easy. However, a separation agreement can make it easier for former couples to make a clean break. It still upholds the conditions addressed between the former couple while potentially giving them the freedom to change them.


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