Marriages are not immune to challenges, and when couples find it difficult to find a solution to their problems, then family lawyers often recommend separation. It offers an opportunity -- both space and time -- to determine whether reconciliation or termination of the marriage is the next best cause of action. However, you need enough time to prepare a separation agreement because there are sensitive areas that both parties need to discuss and include in the agreement. Failure to do so often leads to further deterioration of the marriage and a cumbersome divorce process that will take its toll on the couple and the children. This article highlights critical aspects of marriage that should be included in a separation agreement. 

1. Spousal and Child Support -- It is one of the most critical areas of discussion when preparing a separation agreement. For example, the agreement should state clearly who between the couples should offer monetary support. If the husband is the sole breadwinner, then family lawyers advise that the husband supports the wife and child financially for the period of the separation. The opposite also holds. The agreement usually comes in handy when the parties decide that it is best to terminate the marriage. Once the divorce is finalised, the spousal and child support clause on the separation agreement usually remains. Therefore, it is essential to address marital and child support issues early enough before the separation leads to a divorce.

2. Child Custody and Visitation -- A genuine concern for parents planning to separate is the children. Who is going to have custody and what are the visitation arrangements? In most separation cases, one party gets primary care of the child, and the couples agree on visitations for the other party. Concerning who gets what, it is possible to reach an amicable arrangement between the parties with the help of a family lawyer. However, if there are disputes, then custody and visitation arrangements will be determined by a family court. Most importantly, various prevailing situations in the marriage are factored when arranging for child custody and visitation. For instance, if one party works long hours, then it is highly unlikely that they will get primary custody of the children during the separation.

3. Assets Distribution -- Any property, large purchases or holdings that are acquired during a marriage are considered marital property. While there is always the likelihood of couples resolving matrimonial problems during the separation period, it is not safe to work on assumptions. Making early arrangements for fair distribution of marital property is critical since it will ease the process of divorce if it gets to that. A family lawyer should work with the couple's financial advisor to come up with the best possible form of asset division.