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Separating before divorce? Make it legal

Many couples decide to go through a trial separation before they divorce. Unfortunately, one spouse moves out of the residence and the couple fails to take any legal action to make the separation official. If you are headed for divorce and you and your husband have decided to separate before starting the process, you should consider creating a legal separation agreement.

While some states do not recognize legal separation, Maryland does. Furthermore, after one year of legal separation, you can obtain a no-fault divorce. The legal separation can be extremely useful, especially if you have children, joint accounts, and real estate. Read further to find out more about the benefits of a separation agreement.

Setting boundaries

If you and your future ex-husband are experiencing high levels of conflict, having a separation agreement in place prior to the finalization of divorce will help set boundaries. The agreement will clearly define how the separation will work.

It’s a legal contract

When you a have a legal separation agreement, it is usually signed and witnessed by a judge or a third party. This makes it a legally binding contract. That means that if your husband violates the terms of the agreement, a judge can legally enforce it.

It can include child support

If you have children and you intend to seek child support, you can actually include a provision in the legal separate agreement that addresses the support calculation. The agreement will also give you a legal standing to enforce payment of child support.

Protect your parental rights

In addition to child support, your separation agreement can also include a visitation schedule. It will not only specify visitation, it will list who is allowed to spend time with your children while they are with your husband. The agreement will also stipulate travel requirements, such as if your spouse needs your permission to travel with the children.


You do not have to wait to finalize your divorce before you begin receiving alimony. If you need spousal support, the separation agreement will detail how much your future ex must pay you each month and the day on which he must make the payment.

Keeping up with the bills

Another benefit of a legal separation is that it can specify who will pay for what during the separation. For example, if your husband moves out of your main residence, he may feel like he does not have to continue making mortgage payments. You can detail in the agreement which one of you will be responsible for making the utility payments, handling the car insurance, and any other bills the two of you have as a family.

If you are considering divorce and plan to separate first, you should take the necessary steps to make it legal. Having a legal separation agreement in place will be a big step in coming to a final settlement for the divorce since many of the typically contentious items will already be addressed.

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