A separation agreement is an agreement that the parties can enter into at the time they separate or divorce. It must be in writing to be enforceable. The Court can reject a separation agreement only on the basis that it is unfair, but a trial must be held before that conclusion can be made.
Otherwise, state law requires the Court to set forth the agreement into the Decree.
Unlike postnuptial agreements, a separation agreement can include agreements regarding the children. But these agreements are not binding on the Court. The Court can, however, include the parties’ agreements regarding legal decision-making and parenting time (custody) upon a finding that the agreement is reasonable with respect to those terms.
What makes a separation agreement enforceable? The same thing that makes a contract enforceable. In legal terms, that means there must be an offer, acceptance, consideration (i.e., both sides are giving something up), and an actual agreement (in legal terms, “mutual assent”). Additionally, the agreement needs to be in writing, needs to be specific enough for the Court to understand each parties’ obligations under the agreement, and needs to be signed by both parties. Email signatures count as a signature.
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