When a couple decides to end their marriage, there are various legal steps that they can take to formalize their separation. Two of the most common methods are separation agreements and consent orders. While these two documents may seem similar, they have unique differences that individuals should be aware of before signing any legal paperwork.
A separation agreement is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of a separation. This document is drafted by the couple or their respective legal representatives and can cover various topics such as property division, spousal support, child custody, and visitation rights. The agreement is signed by both parties and is legally binding once it is notarized.
A consent order, on the other hand, is a legal document that is issued by a court. It is a formal agreement that is made by the couple and approved by a judge. Like a separation agreement, a consent order deals with similar topics such as property division, spousal support, and child custody. However, while a separation agreement is simply a contract between the parties, a consent order is a court order with the force of law behind it.
One of the main advantages of a consent order is that it is enforceable by the court. If a party fails to comply with the terms of the order, the other party can seek the court`s assistance to force compliance. This can be particularly helpful in cases where one party may be hesitant to follow the terms of the agreement.
Another advantage of a consent order is that it is a public record. This means that it is on file with the court and can be accessed by anyone who wishes to see it. This can be useful in situations where a party may need to provide evidence of their separation or divorce for a legal proceeding or for potential future employers.
A separation agreement, on the other hand, is a private agreement between the parties. It is not typically filed with the court and is not easily accessible to the public. While this can provide a level of privacy for the parties involved, it can also limit the enforceability of the agreement.
In summary, a separation agreement and a consent order are both legal documents that can formalize a separation or divorce. While they may cover similar topics, a consent order is a court order with the force of law behind it, while a separation agreement is a private agreement between the parties. Individuals should carefully consider their circumstances and seek the advice of legal counsel before choosing which option is best for their situation.