Separation Agreement Lawyer in Fairfax
Understanding Your Legal Rights in a Separation
No marriage is perfect. Sometimes couples experience marital issues which do not always lead to divorce but may result in a temporary or permanent separation. . In most cases, you will have to remain separated (sometimes under the same roof) to wait out a separation period, and during this separation period, you may need to formalize the terms of your separation, including custody, visitation, and financial terms. Most often, all couples anticipating divorce are separated before formalizing their divorce.
Technically, Virginia does not recognize a legal separation, so be aware that anything you do during a separation may be used against you in the divorce, so for example, if you are dating, your spouse may use your dating, under specific circumstances, as proof of adultery. A “divorce from bed and board” or a “a mensa et thoro” divorce is a type of qualified divorce when you can petition the court to grant you a limited divorce, similar to a legal separation, except that you cannot remarry, and to qualify for this type of divorce, you need to prove fault-based grounds for the divorce. This makes the divorce from bed and board a fairly rare option, and typically, most people pursue this option for religious reasons or to maintain certain benefits.
Typically, in Virginia, to obtain a divorce on no-fault grounds, you will need to live separate and apart for some period, and the period depends upon the specific grounds for divorce that you pursue, but again, this isn’t a legal separation, it’s just the necessary requirement before filing or before a court can grant you a divorce. In these cases, separation may be the answer. To obtain a divorce in Virginia, generally, you will have to remain physically separated for a certain time period, and one of you will need to have the intent that the marriage is over, and a corroborating adult witness, other than your spouse, must be able to confirm that there was no reconciliation, along with confirming you are a Virginia resident. Although you can sometimes live separate and apart under the same roof, very strict conditions must be met to demonstrate the legitimacy of that separation period. At Keithley Law, PLLC, we are committed to helping you protect your interests and get your marriage where it needs to be, since these issues can be extremely confusing and complex
A separation agreement, usually called a “marital settlement agreement” or “property settlement agreement” can also be extremely useful for several other reasons:
- You can resolve all of the necessary issues now without having to litigate them in court before a judge will grant you a divorce. For example, before you can obtain a divorce decree, you will need to fully divide all of your assets and debts. You can also decide child custody and visitation issues without having to spend a lot of time, energy, and money on litigation fees to do this in court. You can also resolve spousal support and child support without litigation.
- Some issues can’t be decided in court, like college tuition and supporting adult children.
- You can also shorten the mandatory living separate and apart for at least a year if you and your spouse have no minor children.
- A separation agreement may allow you to save money on filing for fault-based divorce, by agreeing to file only on no-fault grounds (where you don’t have to prove or allege fault to obtain a divorce), and further, it allows you to obtain a no-fault divorce as an uncontested divorce because there are no remaining contested issues, since you and your spouse have fully divided debts and assets, resolved custody, support, and visitation, and any other issues that are important to you have been decided or waived by agreement.
To find out more about how we can safeguard your rights, give us a call at (703) 454-5147.
What Is the Difference Between Separation and Divorce?
Going through a divorce and drafting a separation agreement are similar in some ways. In a legal separation, there are many decisions that must be made between you and your spouse, much like a divorce. However, there are many benefits to separating instead of divorcing. If you have any thought of future reconciliation or have concerns that may prevent you from divorcing, separation could be a better option than a divorce, and your attorney can help you make sure that a future reconciliation will not invalidate your separation, marital settlement, or property settlement agreement. Our divorce attorneys can also help you make sure your agreement doesn’t contain unenforceable terms, which may violate public policy or otherwise illegal. Taking the time now to do things legally can save you a lot of heartache and money in the future because it is extremely difficult and expensive to try and redo or set-aside the terms of a binding separation agreement later.
A few common reasons for choosing separation over divorce might be:
- Wanting to keep medical insurance benefits
- Marriage is required for other types of fringe-benefits
- Religious beliefs against divorce
- Protecting your interests while you work on your marriage, especially when children are involved
Contact a Fairfax Separation Agreement Lawyer
If you or your spouse wants to seek a separation, we can ensure you understand your legal options. At Keithley Law, PLLC, we provide dedicated and experienced legal advice to our clients during emotionally troubling times. Our Fairfax separation attorney is here to protect your rights and see that you are not taken advantage of. You can rely on us to handle your case with the efficiency and tact that it deserves.
Give us a call today at (703) 454-5147 to schedule a case consultation.