Often the best way to resolve the issues arising from a separation and divorce is through a contract called a “Separation Agreement” or if it is a comprehensive document resolving all marital property issues: a “Separation and Property Settlement Agreement.”
The terms of the Agreement can cover everything from child custody, child support, spousal support, division of property and debts, tax issues and miscellaneous issues such as life or medical insurance. Sometimes spouses can negotiate all or part of these terms between them and have an attorney simply draft the terms into a formal contract. More often, however, there may not be the ability to communicate directly or effectively with your spouse, and in those instances, an attorney can assist you with preparing a proposed agreement which can be sent to your spouse for their review with their own attorney. Often through negotiation by the attorneys, and utilizing settlement conferences or mediation if necessary, the terms can be resolved and a Separation Agreement ultimately signed which encompasses all issues arising from your separation. In that event, there is no need for court intervention except to file the actual divorce after a separation of one year.
Separation Agreements are enforceable as contracts and can, in some instances be incorporated into your divorce judgment to become enforceable as a court order.