Does Virginia Require a Separation Agreement?

In many states, married couples must have a formal separation agreement if they plan to separate, but that isn’t the case in Virginia. The Commonwealth of Virginia does not recognize legal separation. In Virginia, a “separation agreement” is a written contract between spouses that addresses issues like property and debt division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.

While divorcing couples don’t need to have a separation agreement to end their marriage in Virginia, creating one is a great way to safeguard your assets and parenting rights, avoid ambiguities, and prevent bitter, drawn-out disputes over certain issues in court.

If a Separation Agreement Is Not Required, Why Is it Recommended?

A formal separation agreement will clearly state each spouse’s rights and responsibilities. Without such an agreement, any responsibilities the parties agreed to accept are not enforceable. By negotiating and drafting a separation agreement with your spouse, you can reduce the risk of conflict in the future and ensure that your rights are protected.

Having a separation agreement also gives you more control over the terms of your divorce. If you and your spouse cannot agree on certain issues, a judge will have to decide those issues for you, and the outcome may not be what you wanted. With a separation agreement, you can decide how you would like to divide property, create your own custody arrangement and visitation schedules, and explore a broader range of potential solutions to your unique situation.

Establishing your separation agreement with the help of an experienced divorce attorney can also save you a lot of time, money, and stress. Divorce is challenging enough without getting involved in a lengthy court battle with your spouse. A separation agreement can make the transition from marriage to divorce easier. It can also help you establish an amicable post-divorce relationship with your soon-to-be ex.

What Is Included in a Separation Agreement?

Separation agreements typically address the following divorce-related issues:

  • Property division – Divorcing spouses can use separation agreements to outline how they would like to divide their marital assets, including homes, vehicles, furniture, jewelry, retirement accounts, insurance policies, and other shared property. You can also use the separation agreement to dictate how a couple’s debts and liabilities will be split.
  • Child custody – Divorcing couples can also use a separation agreement to create a child custody arrangement that suits them both. As long as the child custody arrangement is in the child’s best interests, a judge will most likely approve it.
  • Child support – Couples with minor children can use a separation agreement can be used to set up a child support arrangement.
  • Spousal support – In some cases, one spouse may agree to pay spousal support to the other. The couple can outline the amount of support and the length of time the support will be paid in the separation agreement.

Separation agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties. Both spouses must voluntarily agree to the terms of the agreement. Once it has been signed and presented to the court during your divorce proceedings, the judge may affirm or ratify it. It will then become a legally binding part of your divorce decree.

Contact Us for Help

If you are seeking a divorce in Virginia Beach, Mike Deering can help you negotiate a favorable, legally valid separation agreement with your spouse while protecting your parenting and property rights. Contact Deering Hedrick today at 757-383-6848 for a confidential consultation.


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