What is a Separation Agreement?
Q: What is a Separation Agreement?
Any couple going through dissolution in Ohio is required to have a Separation Agreement. This is essentially a legally binding contract between two parties that mainly sets out all the assets and liabilities of the case.
Assets are things like vehicles, stocks, and bonds, real estate, retirement or profit-sharing plans, jewelry, household furnishings or pretty much anything else valued over $500. Liabilities are another part of the separation agreement and usually consist of credit card debt, mortgages, and student loans.
To file this agreement with the court, it's required that both parties agree on every issue outlined in the Separation Agreement. Assets must be divided and who is responsible for which debts need to be clarified. Any spousal support will also be included in this agreement.
If applicable, parenting and child support terms will also be mentioned in this document, but Ohio also requires a separate Shared Parenting Plan to be done.
This Separation Agreement is required to be attached to the dissolution petition. The entire agreement must comply with Ohio law regarding parenting, division of property as well as child and spousal support.
The Separation Agreement must be entered into voluntarily by both spouses. If the couple is unable to reach an agreement on all of the issues, then a dissolution will not be possible and a couple must file for divorce instead.
Once the Dissolution petition, Separation Agreement and--if needed--Shared Parenting Plan has been created, the spouses can file a joint petition with the court.
This petition—which must be signed and approved by both parties—requests that the court review and approve the agreement the couple has entered into. Like a divorce case, process service must take place, but since both parties are present they simply sign a waiver of service and attach it to the petition.
During the hearing, both spouses will be asked simple questions to make sure they meet the legal requirements to have their marriage ended. They also must testify that they are both satisfied with the agreement, that the agreement was entered into voluntarily, that they have disclosed all of their debts and assets and that they still want to proceed with the dissolution.
The couple will then be asked to verify their signatures on all of the papers.
As with any document ending a marriage, the court will have to approve the Separation Agreement. The judge or magistrate does have the power to make changes or disallow the petition, but this is extremely rare.
If the judge feels that everything is in order and that the judgment is both fair and legal, the court will grant the petition terminating the marriage.
It is important to remember that the parties must agree on everything beforehand—every detail must be sorted out and agreed to in writing. If you and your spouse have decided to go on with your lives and can agree on terms, getting a dissolution in Ohio is usually an easier and less costly alternative to filing for a divorce.
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