What is a separation agreement?

A separation agreement is a written, signed and notarized agreement between husband and wife that records the agreements they have made regarding the dissolution of their marriage. A separation agreement is not a “legal separation”. In Virginia, a separation occurs when one spouse decides to end the marriage and one spouse leaves the marital residence for the purposes of ending the marriage. No other documentation is required to have a “legal separation”, however, a separation agreement will better protect your interest.

A separation agreement is the preferred method to make your divorce as simple as possible. If you and your spouse have a separation agreement, your divorce can be an uncontested or “no-fault divorce” and the costs of your divorce will be as low as possible. If you and your spouse have no children, a separation agreement will allow you to be divorced after only 6 months of physical separation.

Separation agreements should be notarized. A separation agreement is a legally enforceable, binding agreement that can determine significant events in your life such as child support, child custody, spousal support and property division. While there are many separation agreements available for download online, it only makes sense to have a document of such importance drafted by one of our experienced divorce lawyers.

After a separation agreement is prepared and signed, the agreement is presented to the court as part of the paperwork that is filed to complete the divorce. The final decree of divorce is based in large part on the terms of the separation agreement.

Promises made in a separation agreement are permanent; however, child custody and child support are always reviewable by the court under Virginia law.

If it becomes necessary to modify or change the terms of a separation agreement after the agreement has been signed, Virginia law requires the separation agreement to be modified in writing with the same formalities as the original document.