If you suddenly find yourself in a situation where your marriage is ending, you probably feel overwhelmed with emotion and frightened by the prospect of facing the legal process. What will happen with the children? What happens to the marital home? Who pays for it? When will it be sold? What about child support? Alimony?
A separation agreement is a legal contract between you and your spouse that resolves some, or preferably all, of the legal issues between you. The benefit of a separation agreement is that it enables you to proceed with an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce minimizes the time that you would have to spend in the court system and, consequently, would save you a significant amount of money over a trial. Of course, it takes two to reach an agreement. It may seem unimaginable that a marriage riddled with discord could be resolved with a mutual agreement
I have negotiated many separation agreements in all situations. The issues to be resolved include the following:
- Terms of separation
- Child custody
- Child visitation
- Child support
- Use and possession of the marital home
- Sale or transfer of marital home
- Sale of transfer of rental property or other real property
- Retirement benefits and other accounts
- Valuation and disposition of business
- Health insurance for spouse and/or children
- Life insurance
- Personal property, including family use property for the benefit of minor children
As you can imagine, if you were to litigate all of these issues, it is unlikely that a judge would be able to devote a significant amount of time to each of these items. Probably this would result in a property division, child access schedule, etc., that both you and your spouse find inconvenient, or even unfair.
Despite your best efforts, you may be unable to reach an agreement with your spouse. I will work with you to prepare your case for trial. This includes issuing discovery items to your spouse, such as written interrogatories, a request for production of documents, and requests for admissions. Also, it is possible to schedule a deposition of your spouse or other witnesses, where the deponent is required to answer questions verbally under oath. Although this is more expensive than written interrogatories, it is helpful in pinpointing specific issues in that depositions allow for follow-up questions, whereas interrogatories are static.
In preparing for your trial, I will use modern technology to put assemble a game plan that is concise and on point for the court. Litigation is always the last resort, but we will be prepared to put on the best case possible for you.