You’ve made the tough decision to separate from your spouse. In Pennsylvania, you only have three status options. You are single, married or divorced. There is technically no such thing as being legally separated. However, if you decide to separate from your spouse, you may be dealing with some of the same problems that divorced couples handle. You still have to decide how to cover your expenses, how to divide property and who has custody of your children. What you need is a separation agreement.
What Is a Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract between you and your spouse. It describes the specific responsibilities and rights of each parent. If one of you is leaving the family home, then it will cover the division of your property. Since this is only a separation agreement, you need to keep the language clear in the contract that this is not a permanent division. For instance, if your spouse is the one leaving with items from the family home, you have to specific that they will have temporary use of the item and that it is not a permanent arrangement.
Likewise, you can cover issues like alimony and child support. Now, alimony is not mandatory in this case, but you may still want to cover it. Now, child support is mandatory if one parent is living outside of the home. Your separation agreement has to follow Pennsylvania’s child support guidelines. You cannot pay less than the state mandates. With child support, you also have to figure out custody and visitation. This will ensure that each parent has meaningful contact with the child.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
The language of a separation agreement does have to be exact. Since this is not a divorce, you have to be careful of how you design the contract. A lawyer will ensure that you are within your rights and the letter of the law. He or she will also make sure that the contract is legally binding for both parties. You are not required to have a lawyer but it does help.
If you are in the middle of a separation, contact a Bloomington family lawyer today. He or she can help you draft a separation agreement that is legally binding for both parties involved. While there is no such thing as legal separation, you can create a separation agreement that is legally binding. This contract covers many of the same things that you would cover in a divorce.
Thanks to Pioletti, Pioletti & Nichols for their insight into family law and legal separation.