A separation agreement is an agreement between two parties saying that they are consenting to be separated. It needs to say, and it should be in writing and signed by the party, that the parties are separated consensually or that one party does not object to the other party moving out.
People do this, because if one person leaves without an agreement with the other, it could be considered desertion and give rise to a fault-based divorce. If you and your spouse are attempting to file a separation agreement in Fairfax, it is important to contact a compassionate separation agreement lawyer to learn the right steps to take in this difficult time.
Terms in Fairfax
The terms of separation agreements vary from case to case. If it is a separation agreement versus a settlement agreement, it could be as simple as a mutual consent that the parties will be separating. It could be more complex than that where they say they agree on separating, but they divide responsibility, like for their bills.
In some cases, theoretically, the parties could also put together parameters about how custody of the children is going to be shared. That part of it would not necessarily be binding because it would require the approval of the court if it is a child related issue. Separation agreements vary on the needs of the parties and the level of cooperation between them.
Building a Separation
There has to be some sort of cooperation in terms of how the physical separation is going to happen when filing a Fairfax separation agreement and beginning the process. It could be one party moves out and the other party stays or it could be that the parties separate under the same roof and maybe somebody moves out of the bedroom. That is the first step.
When the parties are looking at negotiating concrete terms, it can be important for a mutual disclosure of the assets by each party and the parties can, if they are cooperative and have what they need, sort out between them how those assets are going to be divided.
Additionally, the parties can make agreements related to custody and support of the children. However, anything related to the children is going to require the court to approve it, whereas if the parties create whatever agreement they want in terms of distributing assets or debts, the court does not have much of a say as to the terms so long as the contract is valid.
There is no such thing as a separation as a legal entity or idea in Virginia. There is a process by which a spouse who has a financial need could file in court a separate maintenance case, which means the parties are no longer together and in some sort of relief from the court from a financial perspective.
In terms of the social acceptability as an alternative to divorce, even if a legal separation was something that could happen, it is important for parties to realize that during the separation period there will still be marital assets that theoretically have not been divided.
It can get complicated if the parties go through a long separation without getting divorced, because as time goes by the ability to assess and value those marital assets gets more complicated. When filing a Fairfax separation agreement and going through the process, it is important to have the help of an experienced attorney to help with these complications.