What does a separation agreement cost? Suppose you are married and considering divorce, and many couples ask how much this agreement costs. Let’s explore this question and review some general information about separation agreements.
How Much Does a Separation Agreement Cost?
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract executed by a married couple when they want to divide their assets, debts formally, and marital responsibilities.
Separations and divorces are not the same; even if a couple separates with a legally binding separation agreement, they are still legally married.
Separation agreements are often executed before a divorce, and this agreement allows both parties to separate their assets and debts and live separately while a divorce is pending. Separation agreements will usually include information like:
- Each party’s assets
- Each party’s debts
- Who is responsible for certain marital debts and assets
- How taxes will be filed
- Spousal support
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract. Therefore, it must be carefully drafted to ensure that both spouses are protected and can continue to work together amicably toward a final divorce.
Many couples hire a family law attorney to draft their separation agreement. A family lawyer will know what clauses should be included in the separation agreement and how to draft the contract properly so it is legally enforceable.
Based on ContractsCounsel's marketplace data, the average cost of a separation agreement is $930.00.
What's Included in a Separation Agreement?
The contents of a separation agreement will change based on the couple and how they wish to proceed with their separation. Therefore, these documents are highly customizable and drafted to a couple’s specific situation.
It is common to find the following issues covered by a separation agreement:
- Assets. While married, couples usually acquire assets considered marital property. Assets include real estate, vehicles, furniture, and more. The separation agreement will lay out who is entitled to certain assets.
- Debts. In addition to assets, couples often acquire debt like credit card debt, student loans, or personal loans. The separation agreement will dictate who is responsible for which loans or if the loans will be shared.
- Spousal support. In situations where one spouse provided most of the financial support throughout the marriage, they may agree to pay the other spouse financial support, or alimony, while separated. The court in a divorce sometimes orders this, but it is a good start if a couple can agree on support in the separation agreement.
- Child support. The court in a divorce will dictate child support. Still, while a couple is separated, it is a good idea to agree and include information about child support in their separation agreement.
- Benefits. If the spouses are listed on each other’s pension, IRA, or 401(k) as beneficiaries, a separation agreement can include a clause that releases each other from benefits.
- Taxes. While still legally married, couples must determine how to file their taxes. They have options like filing married or filing singly. This should be included in the separation agreement.
Examples of Separation Agreement Projects
Separation Agreement Drafting
Separation agreements are important documents that often set the tone for how the couple will proceed with a divorce. Divorces tend to be full of emotion and conflict. Still, a well-drafted separation agreement may help to avoid unnecessary disputes.
To ensure that the separation agreement is drafted correctly and is legally binding, many couples choose to hire an experienced family law attorney to draft the agreement. In addition, many states will require each spouse to have an attorney to ensure that both parties are fairly represented.
The attorneys will work with their clients to negotiate a fair separation agreement that protects both spouses and reduces the number of conflicts going into a divorce.
Separation Agreement Review
Sometimes, couples who wish to separate may draft their separation agreement. However, even if a couple chooses to draft their contract, they should always have it reviewed by a licensed attorney before using it.
An experienced lawyer who offers review services will review the contract to ensure that it doesn’t have any mistakes and includes all necessary clauses.
The attorney can ensure that every contract clause abides by state laws and is fair for both parties. If a separation agreement is deemed unfair or unjust, it won’t be enforceable in court.
Drafting a Separation Agreement Cost
When a couple hires an attorney to draft a separation agreement, they incur legal fees. Often, each spouse will need to hire an attorney. Unless otherwise agreed upon, each party will be responsible for their legal fees.
- The lawyers will charge for the following:
- Time spent drafting the contract
- Client meetings
- Time spent editing or revising the contract
According to ContractsCounsel's marketplace data, the average separation agreement drafting costs are $775.00 across all states.
Reviewing a Separation Agreement Cost
Suppose a married couple chooses to draft their separation agreement and hire a lawyer for review services. In that case, they will still incur legal fees, but the fees will generally be lower than drafting costs.
ContractsCounsel's marketplace data shows the average separation agreement review costs to be $600.00 across all states.
How Do Lawyers Charge for a Separation Agreement?
Family law attorneys use the two most common fee agreement structures for legal services are an hourly rate fee structure and a flat fee rate structure.
Hourly Rates for a Separation Agreement
If a lawyer uses an hourly rate fee structure, they will charge a client a set rate for each hour they spend working on a project or case. This fee structure is more beneficial for lawyers because it ensures they are paid for their time on the job.
For a client, an hourly fee structure can result in an unexpectedly high bill if they need to realize how long a legal project will take. Therefore, clients should always ask their lawyer to estimate how many hours the task will take to complete to avoid sticker shock when the bill arrives.
The marketplace data for ContractsCounsel shows that the average hourly rate for a family lawyer ranges from $200 - $400.
Flat Fee Rates for a Separation Agreement
Flat fee rates are growing more popular for attorneys hired to complete a specific task or project. Like drafting a separation agreement, however, flat fee rates are only sometimes used in family law.
When using a flat-rate fee, the lawyer quotes the client a flat rate to complete the job. If the client agrees, they pay upfront. Usually, they won't be responsible for additional fees, even if the job takes the lawyer longer than expected.
ContractsCounsel's marketplace data shows that a separation agreement's average flat fee rate is $930.00.
Get Help with a Separation Agreement
Do you need help with a separation agreement project? If so, post a project in ContractsCounsel’s marketplace to receive flat fee bids from family lawyers to handle your project. All lawyers on the ContractsCounsel’s platform are vetted by our team to make sure you are provided with top tier service.