Separation Agreements are a critical part of the divorce process in Maryland and many other states. They are sometimes referred to as “property settlement agreements” or “marital settlement agreements”. To be considered legally sufficient under Maryland law, a separation agreement must address all issues between the parties, including:
- Property and asset division
- Child custody & visitation, including a detailed parenting plan
- Child support
- Spousal support (or “alimony”)
- Continuation of health insurance
If you don’t have kids, don’t have property, spousal support is not likely to be an issue, and you have a short-term marriage, then a separation agreement is probably not necessary.
Whether you are going to need spousal support (aka alimony) or are going to have to pay spousal support, you should probably have a separation agreement. If you are going to be paying spousal support, than a separation agreement gives you the legal document you need to be able to deduct spousal support on your taxes.
On the other hand, if you are in the position that you need to receive spousal support, a separation agreement gives you some peace of mind and protection – knowing that you are covered financially – going forward.
Custody and Visitation Schedules
If you have kids and you want to dictate what the visitation schedule is going to look like, then you need a separation agreement. Without one, (and I have seen this many times), you run the risk of your spouse (or even ex-spouse, as child custody issues will survive the divorce) suing you for custody. Even though a court will still have the final say about what is in the best interest of your children, the separation agreement provides strong evidence that you can present to the court to show why the custodial schedule you previously agreed should be ordered by the court.
Moving Toward Your New Normal
A signed separation agreement represents a major step forward in obtaining a divorce, and can help you begin to move on with your life.