What is a separation and property settlement agreement?

A separation and property settlement agreement is a written agreement voluntarily entered into between spouses to amicably resolve the issues arising from the marriage. The issues an agreement can resolve include child custody, child support, property division, spousal support, and inheritance rights.  The one thing an agreement cannot do is provide an absolute divorce, which must be granted by a judge. Once an agreement is signed by both spouses and notarized, the agreement becomes a legally binding contract.

The main difference of a separation agreement and a property settlement is when it can be signed by spouses. A separation agreement can only be signed once parties have separated, or if they intend to do so shortly after signing. A property settlement agreement can be signed at any time.

Why should I get a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement?

There are many advantages of separation and property settlement agreements no matter what issues may exist. The reasons why agreements are favored instead of litigation include:

  • Agreements may be less costly than litigation;
  • Agreements may be quicker than litigation;
  • Agreements may maintain control and flexibility;
  • Agreements may remain private; and
  • Agreements may be harder to modify than court orders in some situations.

Knowing that you have retained some control over the outcome can provide peace of mind during a stressful time.

Can I prepare an Agreement myself, or do I need an Attorney?

It is not recommended that an agreement be prepared without the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney. Agreements can be complex, and when they are not prepared adequately, it can result in costly litigation in the future.  While you may engage in negotiations with your spouse on your own, it is recommended that you seek the advice of attorney during the negotiation process. Conflicts may arise that cause negotiations to deteriorate especially when emotions are involved. Parties may leave assets out or inappropriately divide other assets and debts.

Separation and property settlement agreements have long-term implications. An experienced attorney is able to properly review the issues involved and advise you appropriately to ensure that a fair settlement is reached. Once an agreement is reached, an experienced attorney can also ensure that the agreement is properly drafted to avoid disputes in the future.

At Stroud and Panetti, P.C., we have over 30 years in experience in representing and protecting our client’s interests in the Winston-Salem area.  No matter how big or small your matter is, we will ensure that your interests are represented. If you are considering a separation or already separated, we can assist you in creating and negotiating a separation agreement to achieve the most favorable outcome in your situation. Call us today for a consultation with our family law attorneys at 336-724-2600.