There are times when a marriage is over, yet a Virginia couple may be facing a lengthy divorce process and an extended period before the process is final. When divorce could take a while or a couple prefers to live apart first, a legal separation agreement can prove useful. If you think this could be a smart choice for you, you would be wise to seek the necessary guidance to draft a valid separation agreement.
There is much more involved with a legal separation than just moving out. If you wish to separate rather than divorce, it would be beneficial for you to know why this could be a prudent choice and what you should do to protect your interests. For some, drafting a separation agreement offers both financial and practical benefits.
What does legal separation mean?
Legal separation is the process of two spouses separating their lives - this includes financial elements, property, child custody and many other things that couples have to address in divorce. However, a legally separated couple is not actually divorced. Some couples choose to separate or want a formal agreement during their divorce waiting period for reasons that include:
- It can be less expensive to legally separate than it is to divorce.
- A period of legal separation gives a couple time to financially prepare for post-divorce financial futures.
- This process allows a couple to carefully consider how property division and spousal support can work best.
If you are not ready to divorce or you know your divorce process could take months or years, you can draft a legal separation agreement that will work for your unique situation. However, declaring that you are separated and moving into separate residences is not enough - you need a valid, carefully drafted separation agreement to protect your interests during this time.
Failing to have a legal separation agreement can lead to disputes and conflicts. Your separation agreement could address issues that include custody and visitation, but also property division and other financial matters.
Think about your long-term interests
Your long-term interests are at stake when you and your spouse agree to legally separate or divorce. It is smart to carefully consider the impact of your choices before you agree to any terms. After signing a separation agreement in Virginia, couples will be legally separated for a minimum of six months. After that time, they can use their separation agreement as a foundation for their final divorce order.
When drafting an agreement that could have an impact on your financial future, it is smart to do so under the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney who is invested and committed to the protection of your best interests.