What Makes a Separation Agreement in Massachusetts?

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What Makes a Separation Agreement in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts divorce lawyer Kimberley Keyes reviews the ins and outs of Massachusetts divorce agreements.

Massachusetts divorce lawyer Kimberley Keyes

Attorney Kimberley Keyes

When you are pursuing a divorce you are not only asking the Court to end your marriage, you are also asking the Court to decide who gets what. The Court can base this decision on evidence that is presented by the Parties in pleadings and through a divorce trial. Another way the Court “decides” is through the approval of a Separation Agreement created by the Parties.

If you are getting a divorce, you and your estranged spouse have the option to create a written agreement that states how matters relating to the divorce will be addressed. The agreement should deal with the same issues that must be resolved before a judgment of divorce can be ordered. Some of these issues are:

  • custody of children
  • a parenting plan, also known as visitation
  • child support
  • property division (including pensions)
  • alimony, also known as spousal support
  • what will happen to the marital home and other real estate (who will own, who will live)
  • division of debts
  • name change (Wife may revert back to maiden/former name if desired)

A Massachusetts Separation Agreement is only considered by the Court if both parties sign it. Parties cannot be forced into signing a Separation Agreement. At the divorce hearing, the judge may refuse to accept an agreement if (s)he believes it is unfair, uninformed (either Party did not have the opportunity to speak with independent counsel), or if the agreement was signed under duress or as a result of intimidation. Negotiation is not intimidation, but there are boundaries to help parties distinguish between the two. Once a duly signed Agreement is considered and accepted by the Court it is usually made a part of or incorporated into the final divorce judgment.

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New terms must be specified in an agreement to be enforceable.

If you think you may need a Separation Agreement there is no rule that you cannot write one yourself, but It is best to consult an attorney. Some of the issues explored in a Separation Agreement can have far-reaching implications and consequences (such as tax and immigration consequences). When drafting an Agreement, consider that circumstances do and likely will change over time. Because the Court is governed by the “best interests of the children” standard, you, too, should focus on your particular situation in that context. Consider the needs of not only yourself and your estranged partner, but the needs of the children. Remember, Separation Agreements are very technical, so writing your own is both risky and difficult.

Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions: Divorce in Massachusetts page and the Lynch & Owens Divorce Series for more information about divorce in Massachusetts.

About the Author: Kimberley Keyes is a Massachusetts divorce lawyer and Massachusetts family law attorney for Lynch & Owens, located in Hingham, Massachusetts.

Schedule a free consultation with Kimberley Keyes today at (781) 741-5000 or send her an email:

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By | 2017-11-13T12:54:09+00:00 July 17th, 2015|Categories: Divorce, Family Law, Updates|Tags: |Comments Off on What Makes a Separation Agreement in Massachusetts?

About the Author:

Kimberley Keyes is Senior Associate Attorney, Mediation Coach and Divorce Mediator at Lynch & Owens and South Shore Divorce Mediation. She is a frequent contributor to the Lynch & Owens SSDM Blogs on subjects including Massachusetts divorce, child custody and support, abuse prevention orders and Massachusetts family law. Attorney Keyes can be reached by phone at (781) 741-5000 or email at [email protected], or visit her bio page under https://lynchowens.com/attorneys/.