Is a Separation Agreement the Same as a Divorce Decree?


If you are considering separating from your spouse, you are probably thinking about your options. In Maryland, you can create a separation agreement while you wait to get divorced. A separation agreement is not a final divorce degree though, which is the only option that leads allows you to legally terminate your marriage. Today, we go over 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:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Alimony
  • Other financial issues

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 important 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 on the couple in the event they do wish to get a divorce.

Reasons Couples Obtain a Separation Agreement

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

In Maryland, it is not enough to sleep in different rooms in the same house. 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 decide to 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 judgement 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 terms of a divorce. 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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