When a couple decides to split up, it is not always with the intention to get divorced right away. However, with the future of their financial life together so uncertain, and the changes that will occur with raising minor children, it makes sense to draft a separation marital agreement in the interim. In the state of Colorado, unless a couple decides to make changes, marital separation agreements are often recognized at the time of divorce as the final agreement.
There are many benefits to having a comprehensive separation agreement in place that will cover every aspect of your financial and family life. For example, if you own a home together, have kids, or hold financial assets or debts in both of your names, marital separation agreements can help you protect yourself financially while living separately. Of course no separation marital agreement is legal until it is signed by a judge, but once it is signed, it will become a temporary order of court. Temporary orders generally outline the responsibilities assigned to each party throughout the separation but before the divorce becomes final.
Why would you consider a legal separation marital agreement instead of moving directly to the divorce settlement? Here are a few common reasons:
• In situations where there is high conflict and you are unable to engage in healthy communication with your spouse;
• If you cannot trust your spouse to live up to his or her verbal agreements with you;
• When you have children and want to collect child support, it cannot be enforced without a legal court order;
• Custody and visitation cannot be established without some kind of temporary order; otherwise both parents have equal rights to the children like they did during marriage;
• If you are a non-working spouse and have a need for spousal support. Once again, this can’t be enforced without a legal court order.
• When there is any type of debt in the marriage, a legal separation marital agreement will decide who pays which bills. This is necessary to protect your credit in the event that bills are not paid as promised.
There are other details that can also be included in a separation agreement, such as a parenting plan and how the children will be raised. Since a separation marital agreement is usually a prelude to divorce, having most of these issues figured out ahead of time will save you a lot of time and money at the time of the divorce proceedings.