Is a Separation Agreement the Same as a Divorce Decree?


If you are considering separating from your spouse, you are probably considering your options. In Maryland, you can create a separation agreement while waiting for divorce. A separation agreement is not a final divorce degree but is the only option allowing you to terminate your marriage legally. Today, we review the differences between a separation agreement and a final divorce decree.

What Is a Separation Agreement?

If a couple has decided to live separately until they can obtain a divorce, they will need to work out matters such as the following:

A separation agreement can be created to establish each spouse’s rights and responsibilities around these matters. Once the couple makes this agreement and has it notarized, it is a legally binding separation agreement.

A separation agreement is crucial as it creates a legally binding contract that details how a couple will take care of their mutual responsibilities while separated. It can also make it easier for the couple if they wish to get a divorce.

Reasons Couples Obtain a Separation Agreement

You must go through one year of separation to obtain a no-fault divorce in Maryland. To be considered separate, the couple cannot live in the same house or have sex with each other.

In Maryland, sleeping in different rooms in the same house is not enough. A couple must live in different residences during their separation. They are still married until a judge enters a Judgement of Divorce.

Differences Between a Separation Agreement and a Divorce

A separation agreement is not the same as a divorce decree. If you enter into such an agreement, you have decided to live apart from your spouse for a certain period while remaining legally married. You will still be married until you get a final Judgement of Divorce from the court, even if you obtained a judgment of separation.

Modifying and Enforcing a Separation Agreement

A couple can choose to modify an existing separation agreement if their situation has changed or in the vent, they reconcile and would like to get back together.

If one spouse decides to violate the terms of the agreement, the other spouse can pursue a lawsuit to enforce it. Once a separation agreement becomes a part of a divorce decree, it can be enforced through a hearing like any other divorce term. It should be mentioned that once a divorce decree has been entered, a separation agreement is no longer legal or enforceable.

For assistance creating a separation agreement, contact our office online or call us directly at (410) 593-0040 to schedule a consultation.

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