Domestic Relations Separation Agreements Law and Legal Definition

A separation agreement (sometimes called a Pendente Lite Order) is a formal agreement between you and your spouse. It provides for support and other financial conditions until the divorce is final. If it is not in the form of a court order the agreement is not binding. If you and your spouse agree you probably won't have to appear in court, as your attorney will take the signed agreement to the judge who will sign it thereby making it a court order.

A separation agreement usually contains, among others, the following provisions:

  • If there are children, how much child support is to be paid and the terms of payment.
  • A visitation schedule.
  • How much alimony (if any) is to be paid.
  • Responsibility for the joint bills.
  • Who will remain in the marital residence and who will pay for its upkeep.
  • How to split any tax refund and tax deductions.

If a legally separated couple later reconciles, local law varies on the effect of the separation agreement. In some cases, the agreement may be automatically voided, in other cases the couple may sign a document declaring the agreement to be void, destroy the separation agreement, or request the judge to declare the agreement void.