We are often contacted by people who initially want to know how to separate from their spouse or have already separated and want to know what the next step is. Two important issues must be evaluated in either situation. Quite frequently parties sign a document known as a “separation agreement” which documents the actual date of separation. This agreement may include short-term, and in some cases permanent, financial, custodial or other provisions the parties can live with. Short-term issues will get resolved later by settlement or trial.
An attorney cannot represent both parties at anytime during the entire separation and/or divorce process. Therefore, you cannot assume your spouse’s attorney will protect your rights while at the same time protecting your spouse’s interests. That does not happen. An unrepresented spouse should never sign a settlement agreement which seeks to resolve some or all of the disputed issues without the benefit of the legal advice from his/her own attorney.