Friday, December 6, 2013

Property Separation Agreements: Avoiding the Messy Divorce

Divorces are difficult and often messy. Having a separation agreement drawn up prior to divorce proceedings can make an emotional and tense process much more smooth.

In Virginia, there is no such thing as a “legal separation.” Instead, you can hire an attorney to draft what is essentially an agreement or contract between the two parties, specifying the terms of the separation and division of property and other assets. This most often includes bank accounts, retirement funds, military pensions and benefits, vehicles, houses, and even joint debts.

 Where there are children, the parties can work out the terms of custody and visitation, as well as child support, medical insurance, life insurance policies, and retirement benefits. As one might guess, this is usually done in anticipation of future divorce.

For a no-fault divorce in Virginia, there is a statutory separation period of one year before a person can file with the courts. However, if the husband and wife have a separation agreement and there are no minor children (ie. Under the age of 18), they can file after only a 6-month separation period. If there are minor children, the separation period of one year is required, but a separation agreement between the parties becomes a contract, and can be incorporated into the final divorce decree, leaving fewer issues to have to argue about. If necessary, one party can take the other to court for breach of that separation agreement.
Separation agreements can sort out most of the details of a divorce beforehand, and can help create a more amicable, and cheaper divorce process.

If you have questions or would like assistance in setting up a separation agreement between you and your spouse, please give Hadley Law, PLC a call at (757) 498-1800, or email our office at One of our attorneys would be happy to consult with you regarding your case.

About the Author: Sarah V.L. Castleberry is an attorney at Hadley Law, PLC in Virginia Beach, Virginia. She is barred in New York and Virginia.

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