A separation agreement is simply a document that states what each party's responsibility is when a couple is separating either prior to or during a divorce. It is in essence a contract that assists the parties in knowing their respective rights and responsibilities.
This agreement is meant to set forth all debts, assets, and property of the parties as well as parenting matters. It should clearly state what each party is entitled to retain, what each party is responsible for and what their rights are regarding parenting issues.
WHEN IS A SEPARATION AGREEMENT USED
A separation agreement is used when and if the parties have an agreement on the division of all debts, assets and parenting matters as well as support.
A separation agreement can be drafted and entered into at any time. This can be while the parties are still living together or after one of them has moved out. It can be drafted and entered into before any court action is taken. Or it can be prepared after the filing of a compliant for divorce.
A separation agreement is necessary if a married couple want to terminate their marriage by filing for a dissolution. If a separation agreement is entered into prior to filing a complaint for divorce, then the parties can proceed to file for a dissolution rather than filing as a divorce.
WHAT ASSETS SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN A SEPARATION AGREEMENT
A separation agreement should account for all assets held in the name of one of the parties or in the name of both.
When covering assets the parties will need to allocate all of the following:
* real estate
*personal property - household goods
*automobiles and any other licensed property
*life insurance and annuities
*pension and retirement plans
*stocks, bonds, securities, mutual funds
*any other business interests
*Federal, State or local tax refunds
*any asset that is husband or wife's non-marital property
WHAT DEBTS TO INCLUDE IN A SEPARATION AGREEMENT
Debts should include all liabilities held in the individual name of either party or held in the name of both parties. These include:
*credit card accounts
*loans against retirement accounts
*Federal, State or local taxes due
*Allocation of any future tax audit responsibilities
*any debts that are husband or wife's non-marital property
WHAT PARENTING PROVISIONS TO INCLUDE IN A SEPARATION AGREEMENT
A separation agreement needs to be clear on the parenting rights and responsibilities of each parent.
When addressing parenting, the parties need to include:
*a referral to a shared parenting plan if one is being submitted (and then nothing else)
* name and dates of birth of child(ren)
*designation of residential parent
*specific time parenting time allocation
*child support and health care
*cost allocation for out of pocket health care expenses
*how day care expenses are to be paid
*how extracurricular expenses are to be paid
*how tax exemptions are to be handled
*a provision(s) providing both parents with access to all school and medical records
Most counties have a standard parenting order that should be reviewed. Most orders have a workable holiday schedule, provide specifics on transportation as well as language for access to records both medical and scholastic.
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