How to File a Legal Separation Agreement
- 1). Write or have written, either on your own or with the assistance of an attorney, a marital separation agreement. Both spouses should sign the agreement in front of a notary public and keep copies.
- 2). Separate into two households with separate bank accounts --- with each person paying his own household expenses. Divide custody and support of your minor children in accordance with the separation agreement.
- 3). File a petition for marital dissolution or divorce with the clerk of the court in your county. The number and titles of the forms you must complete and file vary greatly from state to state. Filing fees will differ. At the least, you must file the petition and a "summons," which notifies your estranged spouse that you are filing for divorce.
- 4). Prove you have notified your spouse of the pending divorce. You usually hire a process server to hand a copy of the divorce petition to your spouse. Service fees will vary. Some states allow the responding party to complete and notarize a form that acknowledges service of the divorce petition. Some states insist on "service of process."
- 5). Move or stipulate that the marital separation agreement be incorporated into the divorce decree. In Delaware, for example, this request is made at the time the divorce petition is filed when the petitioner completes a 76-page "Divorce/Annulment Instruction Packet." In other states, this is made as a written motion or an oral motion at the divorce hearing.