Rather than a divorce, many couples choose a separation. By separating, the couple is still legally married and can decide to divorce later. While separated, the couple is usually still connected through financial responsibilities and their children.
Some states allow legal separations and handle alimony, child support, child custody, and the division of marital assets. One of the main reasons for choosing a legal separation is to keep the family together for the children, health insurance benefits, or for religious reasons. However, legal separations are not available in every state, including Pennsylvania. Instead, couples can enter into a trial separation or permanent agreement.
In trial separations, the spouses take a break while thinking about reconciliation or divorce. An informal agreement about child visitation and access to the joint checking account can be put together for the couple. A permanent separation agreement is a bit more involved; it means that neither party will be entitled to the other’s income or property or is responsible for their debts.
Should I Implement a Separation Agreement?
It is not required to execute separation agreements in Pennsylvania, but it is recommended, especially when the couple shares children, debt, property, and support claims.
Although some couples may try to write up their own separation agreement, it is best to seek out the services of a trusted family law attorney. Both spouses can contribute to a draft but will also want to ensure that their legal rights are protected. Negotiating back and forth with an objective professional can lead to a permanent separation agreement that works best for everyone.
How Should a Separation Agreement be Drafted?
Support claims, child custody, and property issues are the three main categories that need to be covered in a separation agreement. Spousal support will depend on different factors, such as if one spouse had sacrificed a career to care for the family or was accustomed to a certain living standard while married. Unlike alimony, child support may be mandatory, and Pennsylvania has strict guidelines that will apply. Custody and visitation can also be in the separation agreement and should always be based on the children’s best interests. As for the division of property, it is common for one spouse to live in the home after the other moves out. Payments of rent or mortgage and shared possessions will also need to be worked out.
A benefit of a separation agreement is that a couple still has the option to reconciliate or divorce later. If one is thinking about a separation or divorce, they should contact a knowledgeable family law attorney to start the process.
Delaware County Family Law Attorneys at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello Help Clients with Divorce and Separation Agreements
An attorney can help with a separation or divorce. If you need help with filing for a separation or divorce, a Delaware County family law attorney at the Law Office of Deborah M. Truscello can assist. Complete our online form or call us at (610) 892-4940 for a free consultation. We have an office in Media, Pennsylvania, and we serve clients throughout Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Lancaster, Montgomery County, Norristown, Philadelphia, Reading, and West Chester, Pennsylvania.