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Why should we use a separation agreement? Do we have to?

No, technically, you donít have to, but if you donít, the judge will have to hold a hearing relative to your issues (property, debt, alimony, child support. child custody, visitation, insurance, tax and etc.). This can be long, involved, and time-consuming. Judges actually prefer that couples enter a valid separation agreement. If you do not have a separation agreement, it will make the judge do more work that he or she may feel is your responsibility rather than the courtís. If you do have a separation agreement, it will also show the court that you are prepared and are knowledgeable about the issues at hand. A judge may thinkÖ"If you do not have a separation agreement or have not attempted to negotiate...how much do you really want the separation?"

Be aware, also, that a freely negotiated separation agreement can specify conditions that a judge cannot. It is your relationship and no one else knows it better, so why let a judge make the decisions.