If you are looking at the best ways to write a separation agreement or separation papers, it might seem like there are too many different separation agreement forms out there to choose from for your example document. Marriage separation agreement forms need to be written correctly to ensure that there will be little strife during the separation process. Legal separation paperwork also needs to be fair to both parties.

If you are involved in the process of creating a separation agreement template for your marriage, you need to be sure that you know the right information to include in your agreement. This is the legal document that will serve as your guide during your time apart, and you might have to use this document to work out the details of a divorce down the road. In some states, you might remain legally separated and never get divorced as well. This means that your separation agreement template needs to be well-crafted and complete to be truly useful to both you and your spouse or partner once you are separated.

Separation Agreement Template
Separation Agreement Template Download for Word

Separation Agreement Templates

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What is a separation agreement?

A separation agreement is a document that is used by two married people to divide assets when they decide to live apart. This document might also cover responsibilities that will need to be divided up during the separation process. This agreement can be as unique as it needs to be in order to cover all of the assets, processes, and duties of both spouses that are involved in the separation process.

When looking at generic separation agreement templates, you might not be sure which version of this kind of document is right for your needs. There are actually various kinds of legal separation documents that you can use to govern your separation process. Some of them indicate that you will stay in the same house, while others are targeted at people who will be living apart permanently. Picking the right format for your legal separation is important.

The common kinds of separation agreements are:

  • In-house Separation Agreement
  • Legal Separation Agreement
  • Trial Separation Agreement
  • Marriage Separation Agreement
  • Legal separation papers

Separation documents can include child custody and visitation information as well as spousal support and maintenance and child support. You might also need to include information about splitting up debt, division of property, and even division of business assets. If there was no prenup involved in the marriage, most of these details would not have been made clear until this point.

Remember that child visitation and other details about the child and spousal support will often need to be attended to in a court of law to be final. The parenting plan and child support documents that the court draws up related to your divorce will take precedence over the language in your separation agreement template in most cases. You will need to remember that this is the case before you take the time to add any specifics about these details to your separation agreement document.

Separation Papers

When to use a separation agreement

There are many reasons that couples choose to use separation agreement templates rather than moving straight to a full divorce.

  • Children in the marriage can impact the desire to wait to get a legal divorce
  • The separation might be a trial for a set period of time
  • There might religious reasons for not getting divorced
  • There can be business assets that are better off not being split up
  • Protection of shared assets can be easier in a separation than a divorce

Many people who do not wish to be fully divorced are offered most of the same legal protections when they select a legal separation instead. Divorce can be very stigmatized for some cultures and for some people, and avoiding this process is ideal in these cases. You will not be able to marry anyone else while you are legally separated since your marriage has not been legally terminated, but you can live as if you are single in every other way.

This process can also be the first step in what will end up being a divorce if there is no change to the issues that have led to the separation. Some people give things a few years to potentially improve before they decide to fully divorce.

Separation Agreement Forms

How do you draw up a separation paper?

The following information will need to be included in your legal separation document. Make sure that you do not miss any of these important sections, or your separation agreement template might not be valid. Just like any legal document, your legal separation might not be considered valid if it is missing too much key information or if it has not been crafted with care.

1. Name and Address of Both Spouses

The name and address of both spouses need to be at the top of the agreement. Make sure to use full legal names in this section of the agreement. You can invalidate your own separation agreement template by forgetting to use legal names in this section of the agreement. You will want to consider adding a phone number for both of you as well so that contact can be facilitated if it should be necessary.

2. Details of the Marriage

This section of the agreement will allow you to detail the nature of the marriage, its length, and the shared items and responsibilities related to it. You might indicate that there are shared pets, properties, and even children that are involved in the marriage in this section as well. This does not have to be a deep dive into the actual nature of your relationship, but you do need to explain the way that the marriage was arranged.

This is also a section where you can mention that there is a prenuptial agreement in place that might have an impact on the separation process. There can be many steps of the separation that are much easier if there is a prenup that outlines things to do with breaking up the marriage. While you are not getting fully divorced just yet, the prenup might have helpful guidelines with regard to ownership of assets as well as details about what is allowed in a separation.

3. Start Date of the Separation

The state date for the separation needs to be included in this section so that there is no confusion about when the status of the marriage changed. This can be important down the road legally, and it can also offer clarity to do with rights related to businesses and assets, and it will impact things like parenting time as well.

4.    Statement of the Intent to Separate

You will need to make it clear that both you and your spouse intend to separate upon the above date, and you can cite the reasons for the separation here in brief. You do not need to be too detailed, but you can at least indicate that irreconcilable differences, an issue with behavior, or other considerations are the reason for the intent to separate.

5. Terms

This is the section that is the meat and potatoes of the separation agreement template. This is the part of the separation agreement where you will talk about who will have which duties, how shared parenting time might be handled, and which assets will not be split up. There might also be specifics that you want to include, such as which days of the week the other person cannot bother you by calling or showing up at your new home.

The terms section can be arranged in any way that you want it to be arranged for the most part. You cannot break the law, and you cannot steal anything from the other party that is not yours, but you can set various specific terms related to your unique situation. Remember that you both have to agree to sign this document, so you need to be sure that the terms are fair enough that you can both agree upon them.

It does not do any good to write a strict and unfriendly terms section if you know that your spouse will not sign it. There are many legal ramifications associated with what amounts to coercion as well, so you need to be careful not to stray beyond the bounds of what a legal separation should entail. You are not using the terms section to try and take things from your spouse. You are using this section to sort out the details of an amicable parting of ways.

6.    Assets and Support

This section will need to outline the assets that will be split and the assets that will not be split. Some things that you co-own might have to be sold in order to be equitable about sharing them. You will also want to make sure that any intentions to pay child support or spousal support are listed here.

In most states, the actual amount of child support and spousal support will be determined by a judge, so you will likely not have control over how much you will pay for these two support types after the separation. You can, however, indicate that you plan to pay them at the rate that is demanded by the legal documents that accompany your legal separation process.

There are unique situations where parenting might be split 50/50, and no child support will be necessary for either party. You might also not have to pay spousal support if your spouse is gainfully employed or makes more than you do. This is one of the parts of the separation agreement template that you might want to make sure a lawyer takes a look at. There is no sense in opening yourself up to a signed agreement to pay for more child support than you would otherwise have to pay or to pay spousal support you do not owe to your other half.

7. Signatures

The signatures section also needs to include dates of signature for both of you. You will need to make sure that you both willingly sign this document for it to hold up legally. This is just like a prenup in the sense that coercion or forced signing of the document will invalidate it. This should be a reasonably amicable agreement that does not cause anyone to feel like they are not going to be able to support themselves once the separation is final.

If you are not sure that the separation agreement that you have drafted is correct or might not meet legal requirements, you can take your separation agreement template to a lawyer for review. This is one of the best ways to be sure that your separation agreement is correct and complete and that it will not be invalidated down the road. Being sure about the way that you have written this important document can offer a lot of peace of mind for both you and your spouse as you navigate this difficult time.

Separation Agreement Examples

Separation Agreements Are Important for Those Seeking Legal Separation

While there are many people who just choose to live apart one day and never create a legal separation agreement template, you should avoid this means of handling a separation at all costs. There are so many reasons that you might need guidance during your separation, and you will have no legal recourse if you do not have a separation agreement in place to govern your choice to live apart.

When there are assets, businesses, or kids and pets in the mix, you will want to be sure that your legal separation is handled correctly and that you are not leaving either party involved open to legal ramifications that you did not foresee. Many people choose to keep living apart for their entire life, and a separation agreement acts just like a divorce agreement in these cases. Being sure that you can protect your rights and your possessions and assets during a separation is key. You will get this benefit and more when you decide to draft a legal separation document for your use.

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Tagged:AgreementDivorce AgreementsDivorce PapersLegalMarriagePersonalSeparation
TemplateLab March 6th, 2023
Ryan Duffy
Ryan Duffy