If you and your spouse determine that continuing your Virginia marriage is not what either of you wants, you may decide to officially separate, even if you live under the same roof. In an amicable split, you may consider keeping the arrangement casual and abide by a verbal agreement. However, if either party changes their mind in the future, there is nothing proving the agreement existed. A married couple who wish to disentangle themselves from a legally binding relationship and live separately may do so without going to court and still protect themselves and their assets.
According to the Virginia State Bar, you can use a Property Settlement Agreement instead of involving the court if you can resolve issues on your own. This contract covers a broad range of topics and sets forth the terms under which you each plan to move forward with your lives. It must accompany other documents when your case is ready for divorce.
Custody & visitation
This area of the contract details how you will share child-rearing responsibilities. It addresses day-to-day care as well as decision making. The PSA states the amount of agreed-upon child support and clarifies who pays for what type of expenses, such as education, babysitters, daycare, medical and extracurricular activities.
Property & debt distribution
In this situation, property includes assets such as banking and investment accounts, antiques and collectibles, stocks and bonds, tools, furniture, artwork and businesses. The contract specifies which property is separate and divides the marital assets. You both must also agree upon how to handle marital debt during your separation and after the divorce.
Regardless of the reasons for your split, having documentation that formalizes your separation can help avoid future contention about what you agreed upon. You can learn more about divorce in Virginia here.