Many couples spend a certain period of time living separate from one another prior to filing for divorce and during the divorce process. In fact, if you are seeking a no-fault divorce in Virginia, the law requires that you live apart for at least one year before a divorce will be granted. This separation period may be lessened to six months if you have no minor children and have a Separation Agreement in place. Though you are still legally married during a period of separation, there are still many legal issues that may arise when a couple separates.
Unlike many states, Virginia does not have legal separation under the law. However, the law does allow separated couples to sign a contract known as a Separation Agreement. A Separation Agreement is a binding contract that can be enforced in court that may cover the following issues and more:
- Child custody and visitation
- Temporary spousal support or child support
- Division of property
- Division of debt
Most of the issues in a Separation Agreement are similar to the issues addressed in a divorce. These agreements are important because sometimes separated couples cannot agree and there are many matters that need to be addressed. Some specific matters some couples must agree on include who will pay certain bills, who has access to the family home, who will provide health insurance for children, who will pay for other expenses related to minor children, whether one spouse may leave town with the children, will the spouses be banned from cohabitating with another person in front of the children, and more.
If you and your spouse decide to get divorced, a Separation Agreement can be incorporated into a divorce agreement. If you decide to reconcile and live together again, the Separation Agreement will be voided unless you have specified otherwise.
Contact a Virginia family law attorney for help
If your spouse approaches you and wants you to sign a Separation Agreement, you should always consult with an experienced Virginia family law attorney before you sign anything. An attorney can help identify any unfair provisions and stand up for your best interests. Do not hesitate to call Raymond B. Benzinger at (703) 312-0410 today.