Westborough Separation Agreement Lawyers
The terms “Divorce Agreement” and “Separation Agreement” are rather interchangeable. A Separation Agreement has nothing to do with what some people think a legal separation is – remaining married but legally living apart. In fact, in Massachusetts, there is no such thing as a formal legal separation. Whether you are married or unmarried – you have the right to live with or without whomever you choose.
In the context of a divorce, a Separation Agreement and a divorce judgment often go hand in hand because, typically, the components of these contracts are ordered by the Judge to be included in the final divorce judgment. The Separation Agreement spells out the rights and responsibilities of each spouse as they dissolve their marriage and all the assets and debts that had been obtained during the marriage.
A clearly defined Separation Agreement allows for a smoother transition from being married to living separately and starting a new individual life. They lay out how all the marital funds are to be divided, how marital debt is to be paid, what property each spouse will retain individually after the divorce, whether any premarital property will be retained by each spouse individually, whether alimony or child support will be paid, as well as a host of other things necessary to be able to move forward with your life. If there are children involved from your marriage, your separation agreement will also layout custody and parenting plans.
A separation contract may vary in length, depending on what issues need to be resolved, the nature of any financial disputes, and the complexity of property division. With over 35 combined years of exclusive family law experience, our dedicated team of attorneys can help you through the divorce process if you and your spouse are looking to separate. Our skilled Westborough separation agreement lawyers can draft a contract that fairly accounts for your needs and lifestyle. We have drafted very simple agreements when couples do not have much to divide either due to a lack of resources or a very short-term marriage. We have also drafted very complex agreements over fifty pages long.
How Does Separation Work in Westborough?
There is no such thing as a legal or trial separation in Massachusetts. A married couple can choose to live apart without a court order. Additionally, a couple can separate for as long as they want but remain married. If you find yourself considering one of those types of situations, you should definitely speak to a lawyer first to ensure you are not putting yourself in a bad position if a divorce is filed later. Also, if you have children or need support due to your spouse no longer living with you, there is a type of legal proceeding that allows for court orders to be entered relating to issues surrounding children of the marriage and financial matters without the marriage ending in divorce. However, this type of proceeding is not necessary for a married couple to live apart.
In some situations, a couple may try to live apart while they work on their marital issues. Although some of these situations resolve with the couple remaining together and strengthening their marriage, we’ve found that those types of situations typically end with one party deciding to file for divorce. Although in no way legal advice, whenever you are trying to work on your marriage, the utilization of a really good marriage therapist can often be crucial in making it all work out. Even if you are using a therapist during this time, you should not move out of the marital home without first speaking with an experienced attorney who can educate you on the pros and cons of that decision – how it could affect you financially and, if you have children, how you can protect your relationship with your children during this time.
Many people think that they need to be living apart in order to get a divorce, but that’s not the case. Spouses can live together while pursuing a separation agreement, and, although it is rare, we’ve had some couples continue to live together after their divorce due to financial reasons or because they believe it is best for their children. In general, there is no requirement that the parties have to live apart prior to filing a complaint for separation, during its pendency, or after a final divorce agreement is put in place. The great majority of separating couples do, however, live in different homes at some point during the process.
It is also recommended that a couple enters into a post-nuptial agreement if they are going to try to live separately but not divorce. Similar to a pre-nuptial agreement, a post-nuptial agreement can lay out the rights and responsibilities of each spouse during the separation period and how things will be divided if the couple chooses to divorce rather than reconcile.
A couple seeking a separation in Westborough should contact one of our attorneys for help during this part of the divorce process.
Terms of a Separation Contract in Westborough
When referring to a Separation Agreement in the context of a divorce, there are quite a few major issues that are determined within that contract. What is included greatly depends on the circumstances of the parties. If, for example, the separating spouses do not have any children, there are not going to be any parenting or custody-related issues. Similarly, if both parties are financially independent and earn similar amounts of income, there may not be any alimony payments to discuss and a waiver of alimony may be more appropriate If one of the spouses had previously or had built a business during the marriage, what happens to that business and the value of the business needs to be included.
If the divorcing couple does share a child, there should be terms outlining custody, parenting time, and financial support for raising the child. In Massachusetts, that financial support includes college expenses for the child after he or she graduates from high school. There also may be provisions about medical coverage and extracurricular activity expenses.
Other sections in a separation agreement often include:
- Division of personal and real property
- Life insurance policies
- Decisions regarding state and federal tax filings
- Valuation of business assets
- Division of marital debts
The level of conflict between the parties and the number and value of assets and liabilities within a marriage determines whether additional clauses are needed. Our lawyers at O’Connor Family Law can help an individual who is separating from their spouse create an agreement in Westborough.
Speak with Our Westborough Separation Agreement Attorneys
While separation and even a divorce can occur without the help of a lawyer – there are plenty of people who choose to represent themselves – this is not usually a very wise decision. Most people have never been through a divorce and are unsure about how to go through this process without an experienced attorney. We have seen people enter into agreements that they think are good for them at the moment, but they do not understand the long-term repercussions. Often, once you enter into a separation agreement that is entered into a divorce judgment, it can be hard, if not impossible, to change later.
Although child-related issues will always remain modifiable, the burden that you need to show in order to modify a prior judgment can be difficult if your separation agreement was not written correctly.
Divorce court can be emotional, and many times, people let these emotions get the best of them. Sometimes those emotions cause them to fight over things that aren’t important in the long run and, sometimes, those emotions cause them to give up on fighting over something that is actually very important in the long run. An experienced lawyer can be your advocate and make sure you understand what you are doing – whether that’s with your decision to fight or give up on something. If someone begins the separation process without representation, they may not know how their current decisions can greatly affect them in the future. Sometimes what you do without knowing can end up being extremely difficult and expensive to fix later. Therefore, if you and your spouse are looking to separate or dissolve your marriage, you should contact our Westborough separation agreement lawyers for assistance.