Is a Separation Agreement Legally Binding?
One of the purposes of mediation is to draft a separation agreement for your divorce. A separation agreement is a document that addresses the issues in your divorce, such as alimony, custody, asset division and more. A separation agreement is a legal document that when signed and notarized by you and your spouse can act as a legally binding contract that is separate from or “survives” the divorce. Such a contract is enforceable, meaning you can take legal action if your spouse does not adhere to the terms of the contract. You need to include language in your agreement to make it a binding contract. Otherwise, it is just an agreement between you and your spouse that covers the terms and conditions of your divorce.
Even if your agreement acts as a binding contract, it cannot grant you a divorce. You will address the issues that must be decided upon in your divorce in your agreement, but it does not constitute a final divorce decree. You still have to file your divorce paperwork, which can include your agreement, with the court. A judge must sign off on these papers for your divorce to be final. You can merge your separation agreement with your divorce decree. Merging your agreement with your decree ensures it can be modified in the future under certain circumstances. Your separation agreement might not be modifiable in the future if it is not merged with your divorce decree and remains just a binding contract, but this will depend on the language included in your agreement.
Speak with an experienced Massachusetts divorce mediator about your separation agreement if you have any questions. A mediator can help you word your agreement so it can serve as a binding contract. You may miss out on certain rights and protections an agreement could grant you if you do not consult with an experienced divorce mediator. Never attempt to draft a separation agreement without professional help. Your agreement will address several important issues that may need to be revisited in the future. Speak with a mediator to ensure your agreement meets your specific needs.
If you have questions about how to draft a separation agreement, contact Mediation Advantage Services for experienced family law help. Law Office of Polly Tatum can assist you and your spouse with drafting a separation agreement that meets your needs. Based in historic Worcester with a satellite office in Northboro, MA, our firm serves all cities and towns throughout Massachusetts and Worcester County. You can also sign up for our eNewsletter or download our free e-book for more information regarding divorce in Massachusetts.