“I’m looking for a Separation Agreement.” Of the calls I receive each week, this is the most frequent request. A Separation Agreement in Maryland usually refers to the comprehensive “ Separation and Marital Settlement Agreement” drafted by attorneys or attorney-mediators.
A “Separation Agreement” in Maryland can also be the preliminary agreement between the parties that ratifies their voluntary separation- in other words the parties sign a written document which states that they are separating by their mutual and voluntary agreement, even before all the details are negotiated relating to child custody, alimony, or other support, and division of marital property like cars, bank accounts, pets, furniture and retirement or business interests.
Many times in mediation the parties only feel comfortable embarking on their physical separation if a written document is signed so that neither party accuses the other of abandonment or throwing the other party out of the marital home. When those fears are set aside, and the separating couple is out of the pressure cooker of living under the same roof, many couples feel more ready to begin negotiations on the comprehensive Separation Agreement- the Marital Settlement Agreement.
I’ve written in a previous blog about “Legal Separation” in Maryland and tried to explain that that common terminology is a misnomer, since most people usually mean simply that they want a Separation Agreement. What they want is a Maryland Separation Agreement which legally binds the parties to the terms relating to child custody, alimony, or other support, and division of marital property like cars, bank accounts, pets, furniture and retirement or business interests.