SC: Separation Agreements

Marital settlement agreements or separation agreements are documents signed by parties who plan to divorce but do not want a court to resolve their issues. Sometimes they are negotiated and agreed upon prior to the filing of a divorce or separation action, and sometimes they are developed while a case is pending in court. They are most often reached through negotiation or mediation, although there are cases where parties have privately agreed to the terms and simply wish to have their agreement memorialized in a legal fashion. In an agreement, you and your spouse can agree on the terms for custody, visitation, child support, alimony, property and debt division, and attorney fees and costs.

To be enforceable, an agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties who confirm they have engaged in full and complete financial disclosure to one another. The agreement must then be presented to the court for approval. Once approved, the terms of the agreement will be enforceable by the contempt powers of the court, which can result in serving a jail sentence, paying a fine, and/or facing other sanctions against a party who fails to abide by the terms of the agreement.

Mutually Agreed Separations

If you feel that you can reach an out-of-court settlement and avoid a trial, then you should contact one of Touchstone Family Law’s South Carolina attorneys to assist you in the drafting of the necessary documents. Because the court will enforce it in the same manner that it would enforce a court order resulting from a hearing or trial, it is very important that the language correctly reflects you and your spouse’s understanding. There are many documents and on-line forms on the internet that can make the process look easy and inexpensive, but it is important that you speak to an experienced attorney to get things rights. Failing to do so can be much more expensive and have great consequences.