How Long Does a Marital Separation Agreement Last?

By Mike Broemmel
Long, a Marital Separation Agreement

DB King, Everystockphoto.com

Stand Alone Marital Separation Agreement

There are a number of circumstances in which individuals obtain a marital separation agreement. There are instances in which a couple will elect to agree to a marital separation agreement because they want to obtain all of the benefits of a divorce but do not want to actually terminate their marriage.

Some couples will elect to enter into a marital separation agreement because of religious beliefs, if the couple is part of a religion that frowns on divorce. In such a case, a marital separation agreement allows these individuals to deal with property, child custody and all other issues associated with the what otherwise would be a divorce case without the marriage being dissolved.

In circumstances in which a couple has entered into a stand-alone marital separation agreement, that agreement will last indefinitely. It will remain in effect unless and until the couple decides to reunite or divorce.

Marital Separation Agreement in Divorce Case

Beyond a stand-alone marital separation agreement there are also marital separation agreements that are part of an overall divorce case. This type of marital separation agreement actually is referred to by a number of different names, including temporary separation agreement or preliminary separation agreement.

This type of marital separation agreement is a temporary contract between a married couple that stays in force until a final divorce decree is granted. The length of time that this type of marital separation agreement remains in effect depends on how long the divorce proceedings last.

Typically, a temporary marital separation agreement will last anywhere from 90 days until over a year--again, depending on how long it takes for a divorce case to be finalized.

In many cases, a marital separation agreement is a voluntary contract between the parties to a divorce. However, if the couple cannot agree on the terms and conditions of a marital separation agreement, the court will issue a temporary marital separation order.

If the court issues an order, it is within the power of the judge to set a time in the future (commonly 60 days) in which the order will be reviewed and reconsidered by the court.

Elements of Marital Separation Agreement

A marital separation agreement will contain a specific set of provisions. It will deal with financial issues including which party will be responsible for which of the debts accumulated during the marriage. The agreement will also set forth which party will be entitled to certain assets obtained during the marriage.

Such an agreement will delineate who will have primary custody of any minor children born of the marriage. Parenting time or visitation will also be established within the confines of a marital separation agreement.

In dealing with issues pertaining to child custody and parenting time or visitation, there can be certain time frames established and contained within the agreement. For example, although the agreement itself may not have a specific time frame in which it will last, there can be milestones in which certain alterations of custody or parenting time arrangements will be altered or adjusted.

Because of the importance of a marital separation agreement--including the length of time in which it will remain in effect--a couple interested in entering into such an agreement needs to give serious consideration to engaging the services of a qualified and experienced attorney (or attorneys--one for each person in a marriage). By obtaining appropriate legal advice and representation you will be in the best position to ensure that you will be able to enter into a suitable and effective marital separation agreement.

About the Author

Mike Broemmel began writing in 1982. He is an author/lecturer with two novels on the market internationally, "The Shadow Cast" and "The Miller Moth." Broemmel served on the staff of the White House Office of Media Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science from Benedictine College and a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University. He also attended Brunel University, London.

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