While many people immediately think about divorce when ending their marriage, a legal separation can be a viable — and even beneficial — option for some. However, to protect your rights and financial interests, it’s important to treat the separation as seriously as a divorce.

One of the most important parts of a separation is the separation agreement. The separation agreement acts in a very similar manner to a divorce settlement agreement in that it sets up very clear parameters. Common issues that are included in separation agreements are details on who will stay in the house and whether any assets will be split during the separation, how custody and visitation will work if children are involved, and any child support or alimony matters.

It’s important to understand that even though it is a separation agreement, it is still legally binding. If either party goes against the terms listed in the agreement, it could be grounds for contempt. If you have an issue with something in the separation agreement or find that something doesn’t work out as well practically as you had hoped on paper, you will need to go through the courts to get the agreement modified.

The best thing you can do for yourself when going through a legal separation is to make sure that you have experienced legal counsel who can help you go through any proposed separation agreements and make sure they are a good fit for your particular situation. At the law firm of Margaret H. Oliver, LLC, we can help you understand your rights and options.