What should my separation agreement say?
In general, a separation agreement covers:
Basic information such as the date you were married, the date you separated (or will separate)
- Who the children will live with (if you have children)
- Who will pay which bills
- How property, like your home and cars, will be divided up and cared for
It is important to think carefully about the terms of your separation agreement. If you decide later to get divorced, the terms of your separation agreement can become the terms of your divorce.
To help you prepare to speak with a lawyer about a separation agreement, the following is a list of issues a lawyer will likely to ask you about. Consider each issue carefully:
Where you will live
Legally separated spouses must live separately at all times.
The agreement must specify the amount of spousal support (if any) you or your spouse will pay to the other and for how long.
You and your spouse will need to decide if one of you will have sole custody of your dependent children, or if you will share custody (known as joint custody).
Whether you have sole or joint custody, your separation agreement should include:
- A regular visitation schedule (times during the week that each parent is allowed visits with the child)
- A holiday visitation schedule
- A vacation visitation schedule
Typically, the parent who has the child for the least amount of time pays child support to the other parent. You will need to decide how much, and how often, the paying parent pays.
Any additional costs for children
Additional costs can include costs for extracurricular activities (like piano lessons or sports league fees), additional health insurance, etc. Total up these costs and decide what percent of the total cost each parent will pay.
You will need to decide what will happen to your home. For example, you may want to agree that you or your spouse will not sell the home without the other’s permission.
If you want to make sure you are entitled to a specific piece of property, like your motorcycle or car, state it in your separation agreement.
Pensions and retirement
How your pension and other retirement accounts, like a 401(k), will be divided up.
Who will pay which bills
You will need to decide who will be responsible for which bills, like your mortgage, any credit cards, car payments, insurance payments, personal loans and any other debts.