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What is a Separation Agreement in Virginia – and Do You Need One?

A separation agreement in Virginia, also called a “property settlement agreement,” is a document that divorcing parties use to outline how they will dispose of or resolve the issues that arise from the marriage. This includes, but is not limited to, child custody and visitation, spousal support, division of property, insurance taxes, businesses, pets, and other issues.

Divorcing couples can essentially agree to anything they want in the document, coming up with solutions to issues that may not be available to them in court.

Get ready to compromise

Separation agreements are not going to be perfect, and, oftentimes the separated spouses must compromise to come up with an arrangement that works. By reaching a separation agreement and staying out of court, divorcing couples will spend less time and money on the divorce and be able to craft solutions that fit their specific situation. Remember, in divorce, there are no winners in court.

Legally binding contract

The separation agreement is a legally binding contract once the parties sign it; it becomes a part of the divorce decree once the divorce is finalized by the court.

This agreement is not required, though, to separate in Virginia. You can sign one before you officially separate or after.

Know what you’re signing

Most separation agreements are not modifiable after they’ve been signed, like in the cases of spousal support or equitable distribution of assets, so it’s important that you know what you’re signing, and that you’ve gotten the appropriate legal advice in moving forward.

Remember, your first option should almost always be to explore coming up with a separation agreement. It saves time, money and emotions down the road.