Divorce laws and their implementation vary from state to state, county to county, municipality to municipality, so it would be a disservice to you for us to focus on the law.
The following are some typical example issues addressed in a separation agreement.
- Separate Lives: Husband and wife shall lead their separate lives and live separate and apart from each other. Each shall have the right to be free from the interference or control of the other in his or her personal life. Neither of them shall attempt to subject the other to any restraint, censure or harassment. Husband and wife agree to treat each other with the respect and consideration appropriate to the situation of two persons who, although now separated, have shared an important part of their lives.
- Separation: The separation between the parties took place with their mutual consent. It may not be used as the basis for a charge of desertion or constructive desertion against either of them. Each party agrees not to seek a divorce from the other on any ground except a no-fault ground such as marital separation.
- Custody Arrangements:
- Custody - Neither shall in anyway seek to estrange the children from the other. The children shall be in sole care of the wife. Husband shall have visitation on Sundays and holidays ... and any other days as long as it doesn’t interfere with school and he notifies Wife in advance.
- Residence - Principle residence of the children shall be with the Wife.
- Health - Each shall have authority to consent to emergency medical treatment for the children, and agree to consult with each other on major health decisions.
- College Education - Both agree to assist all children with their post-high school education, and shall meet to make provisions. The present $XX,000 College Fund is established for the children’s college education and Wife shall act as Trustee.
- Health Insurance - Wife agrees to maintain comprehensive health insurance for the children for as long as she can obtain this benefit through her employment; should Wife become unemployed, Husband agrees to provide health insurance coverage for his minor children. Both shall be equally responsible for expenses not covered by any health program.
- Child Support - Husband agrees to pay Wife for the support and maintenance of their minor children, $XXX.00 per month, per child.
- Spousal Support - Both parties waive any claim to receive spousal support and alimony.
- Real Property - In exchange for equities contained in this agreement and in exchange for $XX,XXX.00, the parties agree that the residence shall become the sole and separate property of Wife. Wife is solely responsible for expenses related to owning the home.
- Division of Personal Property - Equitable and fair (itemized in agreement).
- Automobiles - Equitable and fair (itemized in agreement).
- Bank Accounts -Joint accounts closed and divided as agreed; individual accounts retained exclusively by each.
- Pension Rights - Each party waives claims against other’s pension.
- Life Insurance - Present policies in effect until final divorce decree. Husband agrees to maintain minimum coverage of $100,000.00 for children as beneficiaries and provide yearly proof of compliance for as long as he is obligated to make child support payments.
- Health Insurance - After final decree, each party is responsible for own.
- Credit Cards -Joint accounts closed or converted to separate accounts, as agreed by both; accomplished by writing to credit card companies. Each responsible for one half of existing Mastercard balance and all of his/her own accounts.
- Income Tax and Exemptions - Agree to file jointly for tax year 2XXX if it is in their best financial interest to do so. Refund or payment to be shared equally. Wife shall claim future dependency exemptions.
- Indebtedness - Each shall be solely responsible for own indebtedness except as otherwise set forth in this agreement.
- Attorney’s Fees - Each responsible for his or her own.
You can assist your attorney by providing complete and accurate financial and insurance information. Read over any settlement proposals carefully and don’t hesitate to request an explanation if any language is unclear to you. Be a part of the process.
Don’t let your attorney talk you into a battle you don’t want. Remember to look at each issue with an eye on your finances and the big picture. Don’t pay your lawyer to negotiate at $150 an hour or more over an item or principle worth far less. Keep your costs down by communicating in writing with your lawyer. Keep thorough notes and records. Check your billing statements against your calendar and notes. Most attorneys want to bill fairly and accurately, but mistakes should be brought to their attention as soon as possible.