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Make Sure Your Separation Agreement Includes Everything You Want Before You Sign It!


Yes, make sure you are getting everything you want and deserve! It’s an important part of the divorce process! Don’t take signing your agreement lightly.

Many spouses expect divorce to be an ongoing battle, but as a seasoned New York divorce attorney/mediator, I tell many spouses, it doesn’t have to be! There are constructive ways to tackle divorce and create a battle-free path that is nonadversarial and more cost-effective.

A pivotal part of the divorce process is developing an agreement with which you are both satisfied. This contract should cover everything that is important to you both, like custody of your children, support, maintenance, marital, separate and personal property.

There is a lot to consider. It’s necessary to address everything that applies to your marriage.

You will need the help of a divorce attorney/mediator to create a comprehensive separation agreement. As a divorce attorney/mediator, I have developed thousands of separation agreements over the past 35 years. I have successfully helped couples design an agreement that is thoughtful and thorough! I can help you too!

Many of my clients ask, “What should be included in our separation agreement?” I have put together a basic separation agreement checklist for them that may be helpful to you if are considering divorce.

A separation agreement is a contract in which you and your spouse agree on all the terms of your divorce. You will discuss and make decisions about various issues relevant to your divorce such as:

  • 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;
  • Childcare, extra-curricular activities;
  • Health insurance;
  • Life insurance;
  • Tax consequences.

Here are some important areas to include in your separation agreement:

1. Assets and Property

You will first review what are separate and joint assets. Generally, property owned by one spouse prior to the marriage is separate property, if it was not put into joint names, and remains separate property.

If work was done on the property during the marriage it could have been converted into marital property.

In New York, anything acquired during the marriage is marital property. Marital property is subject to fair distribution upon divorce - not necessarily 50-50. You will be deciding on division of all property, bank accounts, pensions, retirement accounts and other assets. 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 agreement.

In addition, you will address individual and joint debts such as mortgages, bank loans, credit card debts, student and car loans.

2. Children, Custody, Visitation and Child Support

First there should be a discussion about custody. Joint? Sole? Residential? Sole custody had traditionally been the most common choice years ago, but today, divorced parents are choosing arrangements in which joint custody is more common. I can help with suggestions about possibilities.

With visitation, you will design a plan with the other parent. This schedule will include details like days of the week, weekends, time visitation starts and stops, holidays, and summer vacations.

You will also discuss child support. Child support cannot be waived. There are child support guidelines for every state. There are also arrangements for childcare and extracurricular expenses like dance lessons, camp, or private school, to name just a few.

3. Spousal Support

Spousal support provides financial assistance when there is a disparity in the income of the spouses. It helps a stay-at-home parent become self-supporting.

The amount of spousal support should be decided by both parties. There are guidelines and statutes to help with support amounts.

Before you sign your separation agreement, make sure it truly represents everything you want and need. Making changes after the fact can be almost impossible. Read the draft agreement carefully and ask lots of questions before signing! Make sure you choose an attorney/mediator who will guide you towards the best decisions for you and your family!

If you would like to discuss what should be included in your separation agreement, give me a call.

Divorce doesn’t have to be quite so difficult 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 productive and helpful to you and your family.

Call me today to schedule your free consultation and discover how I can help you create a separation agreement that works for you and your family.

All our FREE 1 HOUR CONSULTATIONS are still available virtually.

Warm regards,


Call New York Divorce Lawyer Lois Brenner right now so she can answer all your questions about what should be included in your separation agreement.

To schedule your Free 1 Hour Consultation call