Separation agreements allow you to outline specifically in a divorce what you agree to. This might include details about child support, alimony, taxes, and name changes. What you put in the agreement is specific to the situation and concerns you may have.
There are two forms of a separation agreement in Massachusetts. One functions as a contract and is binding when you and the other party sign it. The other is non-binding until you get the approval of the judge. However, in both cases each party must agree to sign the agreement. Which type of separation agreement depends on specific details of the case. A lawyer can best outline the difference.
If a judge thinks it is unfair or that someone was forced to sign it, he or she may not sign off on it. Further, when children are involved, the agreement must be seen as in the “best interest of the child” for a judge to approve it.
Having legal counsel is important when writing a separation agreement. Many of the issues involved are complicated and may change over time. A lawyer can examine your particular needs and situation to determine what is fair.
In Massachusetts, a lawyer can draw up a separation agreement for both parties in a divorce, although they have to be advised of seeking their own independent legal counsel and have the consent of both parties. Mediators can also be used, especially when addressing aspects of the agreement that one party contests.
It is important to note that a separation agreement can be filed before or after you file for divorce. Having a written separation agreement is important for solidifying verbal agreements you may have. It best protects your interests in the course of getting a divorce or in a legal separation.
If you have questions and would like to speak with an attorney, please contact our office to schedule an appointment.