For many couples, a separation agreement may be the most beneficial, civil, and economical means of addressing all issues arising from their separation, including child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. These issues can be resolved either by the court through litigation or by the couple through negotiation and settlement. If such issues are resolved by the court through litigation, the court’s decisions are memorialized in court orders. If, on the other hand, such issues are resolved by the couple through negotiation and settlement, the terms of their settlement are often memorialized in a separation agreement. By signing a separation agreement, such issues are resolved outside of court, thereby minimizing the hostility, time, and expense often associated with litigation.
Spouses may sign a separation agreement shortly before or at the time of their separation. Addressing the issues that arise from separation prior to the separation itself can significantly reduce the stress and anxiety inherent in any separation and provide the separating spouses with the security of knowing what they may expect as they transition into their new households. Spouses are, however, often unable to resolve all of their outstanding issues prior to or at the time of separation. In these instances, it is not uncommon for a couple to negotiate the terms of a settlement after their separation.
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract, and it may be enforced in the same manner as any other contract. Specifically, if a party to a separation agreement has violated the terms of the agreement, the other party to the agreement may file a lawsuit for breach of the agreement and ask the court to order the breaching party to comply with the terms of the agreement. If, after being ordered to comply with the terms of the agreement, the breaching party remains noncompliant, the other party may then file a motion for contempt with the court asking that the breaching party be held in jail until he or she complies with the terms of the agreement.
To learn more about separation agreements, contact Chapel Hill Family Law by phone at (919) 419-1244 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.