Separation Agreements Explained by Rochester Divorce Lawyer

Separation Agreements Explained by Rochester Divorce Lawyer

Separation Agreements Explained by Rochester Divorce Lawyer

This post will take you briefly through separation agreements explained by dedicated Rochester Divorce Lawyer Michelle Cimino. In this post, we discuss the basics to help you understand how separation agreements work and whether they may be the best option for you, if you’re considering separation.

Separation Agreements : An Introduction

Pulling away from a relationship, especially marriage, is never easy. It becomes even more complicated when there’s an understanding that much like a marriage, separation will affect your life in many ways. Usually, marriages have the effect of merging the previously separate lives of the people involved.

Fortunately, there are legal options available to help make separation less complicated than it would typically be. One of such options is Separation Agreements.

What’s a Separation Agreement?

A separation agreement is an undertaking used by couples to divide assets, rights, and responsibilities, usually in preparation for a divorce. A separation agreement is a contract. It details a settlement of issues that come up when a relationship (unmarried or married) ends.

Separation agreements deal with a wide range of issues depending on the parties involved. Separation agreements typically deal with alimony, child support, spousal support, and marital property division. But like every other agreement, they can deal with party-specific issues. For instance, who gets to take care of a treasured pet may be dealt with under a separation agreement.

Separation agreements are not restricted to married couples alone and can be used in any of the following situations –

  • They are used where a married couple decides to live apart but are not ready to divorce.
  • They are used where a married couple has decided to divorce and are clear on how they would like to divide their rights and obligations.
  • They are also used between an unmarried couple who wish to document the responsibilities to be divided during separation.

Issues typically covered in separation agreements

Child Support

Child support involves monetary obligations that a non-custodial parent (the parent spending less time with a child) pays to the custodial parent to help cater to the child’s basic living expenses. Separation agreements will usually include the following where it relates to child support – each parent’s financial status at the time of the agreement, the child support order, and the duration of payment intervals.

In the event of a default in child support obligations, the aggrieved party may resort to child support enforcement.

Spousal support

Spousal support is an expense paid by a spouse (usually the more financially stable one) to another spouse to help regular living expenses. Spousal support is not always required, but provisions for spousal support can be included in the separation agreement if both parties agree. The terms of spousal support will usually discuss the amount to be paid, the spouse who will make the payment, and conditions for termination of spousal support.

Division of marital property

Between a married couple, there are two types of property recognized by the courts – marital property and separate property. In the United States, there are different ways to divide marital properties. However, the most prominent methods are equitable distribution and community property.

Rather than leaving the courts to decide what each spouse gets in the event of a divorce, a separation agreement can contain provisions to guide marital property division.

Parental responsibilities and custody access

This is a vital subject covered by separation agreements. The agreement can provide for how parental responsibilities between the parties will be shared. Parental responsibilities are wide-ranging and can include anything – deciding who takes the kids to schools, birthdays, holidays, school events.

Who gets custody and the duration of child custody is also usually covered in a separation agreement.

Requirements of a Separation Agreement

A separation agreement functions like regular contracts and can be enforced in a court of law where one party fails to perform an obligation. For a separation agreement to hold up in court as a valid agreement, certain elements are necessary. Some of these requirements include but are not limited to –

  1. A separation agreement must be in writing. Both parties typically engage in preliminary negotiations before a lawyer formally drafts up a separation agreement. However, oral contracts may not have the legal support that is available to written agreements.
  2. The terms of a separation agreement must be fair. The court will not hesitate to deny enforcement of an agreement deemed unfair to either one or both parties.
  3. The agreement should be under conducive conditions and not under duress.
  4. The agreement must identify the rights and obligations of the parties involved.


Separation agreements allow for a peaceful (or at least defined) resolution in the event of a looming divorce. It will enable parties to participate in their most private affairs without necessarily involving a court of law.

Separation agreements can have far-reaching effects on your finances, time, and other parts of your personal life. This makes it imperative to get the best legal advice if you’re going to be a party to a separation agreement. Separation agreements ideally require a strong understanding of both family law and contract law.

Looking for the best legal advice relating to separation agreements or a lawyer to draft a formal separation paper in Rochester, NY, or anywhere in the world?
We got you covered. With enough family law experience, Rochester Family Law Attorney Michelle Cimino of the Cimino Law Firm has the experience you need to help protect your interests in a separation agreement.

Get in touch with us today!

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