Are you thinking of Divorce? Well, you’re not alone. With 40%-50%
of all marriages ending in divorce this is not as uncommon as you think.
An important part of the divorce process is developing an agreement you
can both live with. An agreement should cover everything that is important
to you both like custody of your children, support, maintenance, separation
of your property, your assets, home and personal property. There is a
lot to consider. You will need the help of a divorce mediator or attorney
to create a solid agreement. I have helped hundreds of couples design
a separation agreement that is thoughtful and thorough!
So what is a Separation Agreement?
It is a legally-binding document In which you and your spouse agree on
all the terms of your divorce. You will discuss and make decisions on
various issues relevant to your divorce like:
- Equitable distribution of marital property
- Spousal alimony / rehabilitative maintenance
- Division of retirement accounts, pensions and deferred compensation
- Child custody, parenting arrangements, and child’s residence
- Child support
- Health insurance
- Life insurance
- Tax consequences
Here are some highlights from my Separation Agreement Checklist:
1) Assets & Property:
You will first review what are separate and joint marital assets. Property
owned by one spouse prior to the marriage is separate property and remains
Anything acquired during the marriage is marital property. Marital property
is subject to equitable distribution upon divorce. You will be deciding
on division of joint assets, bank accounts, pensions, and properties.
You and your partner will have to discuss how you wish to split what you
have accumulated together. Communication during this process is key. You
may have to work with a divorce mediator or attorney to develop a sound
In addition you will address individual and joint debts such as mortgages,
bank loans, credit card debts, and car loans. Personal property will be
considered too! Like clothes, gadgets, computers, iPads and phones.
2) Children, Custody, Visitation & Child Support:
First there should be a discussion of custody. Joint? Sole? Sole custody
had traditionally been the most common choice, but increasingly, divorced
parents are choosing arrangements in which the children live with both
parents: 50/50, 60/40, or whatever works for the individual family.
If the children are going to live with one parent more than the other (60/40,
for example), that person should be referred to as the “residential
With visitation, you will design a plan with the non-custodial parent.
This plan will include details like days of the week, weekends, time visitation
starts and stops, and holidays.
You will also discuss child support. You cannot waive child support. There
are child support guidelines for every state. There is also a discussion
about extracurricular expenses like orthodontics, dance lessons, camp,
or private school, just to name a few.
3) Spousal Support:
Spousal support provides financial assistance in recognition of a partner’s
contribution to a marriage and helps the recipient achieve financial independence.
The amount of spousal support should be decided by both parties. There
are guidelines and statutes to help with support amounts. Spousal support
can be waived by the recipient spouse if agreed to by both parties.
If you would like to discuss other components of a Separation Agreement
checklist, give me a call.
Divorce doesn’t have to be quite so painful financially or emotionally.
I encourage couples to try the amicable, less stressful, less expensive
path of mediation. Divorce can be a civil series of discussions and decisions
that can be healthy and helpful to you and your family.
I can help you choose the path that is right for you. Call me today to
schedule your free consultation and discover how I can help you create
a satisfying separation agreement. 212.734.1551.