Separation Agreements and Family Law
You can resolve your marital issues with a separation and property settlement agreement (“SPSA” or “SPA”).
This document is a private agreement, unless it is incorporated in the divorce judgement. If the SPSA remains a private agreement, no one, not even a judge, can modify the terms, except you and your spouse. If either of you fails to abide by the terms of the SPSA, the remedy is to sue for breach of contract and seek monetary damages or an order for specific enforcement. In a SPSA, you and your spouse can agree to terms for child custody, child support, spousal support, property division and attorney’s fees. You can even contract about college education expenses. There is generally also a waiver of property rights, including inheritance rights. If you chose to incorporate the SPSA into the divorce judgment, then at the time of divorce, the SPSA may become a court order. Making the SPSA a court order allows a judge to modify the custody, child support and spousal support terms based on a substantial change of circumstances that may arise after the SPSA is executed. Incorporation also allows for enforcement of the terms by contempt, which could include putting a party in jail for willfully failing to abide by the terms of the SPSA.