Statute of Limitations on Separation Agreements

By Beverly Bird

Contracts don't typically expire unless an expiration date is included as a provision, or the law imposes a statute of limitations. Separation agreements are enforceable as contracts even if you don't ultimately divorce. There's typically no statute of limitations, so if you've signed one, you may be stuck with its terms.

Separation

A signed agreement can govern the terms of your separation indefinitely. You don't have to get divorced; the terms of the agreement will continue to prevail nonetheless. In fact, as a binding contract, your agreement can remain enforceable even after you divorce. However, your divorce decree can include language stating that it supersedes the terms of your agreement.

Conversion to Divorce

Assuming you have no problem with your separation agreement, you can merge it with your decree if you later decide to divorce. In some states, this is as simple as submitting a copy to the court along with your divorce paperwork and asking that its terms be incorporated in your decree. Divorce decrees don't expire or have a statute of limitations either.

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Modifications

The terms of your agreement remain binding, either as a stand-alone contract or merged into your decree, unless either you or your spouse goes back to court to modify them. Depending on the wording in your agreement, you might not be able to change the terms regarding alimony or property division, but custody and child support provisions can always be altered later if there's a change of circumstances.

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Amending a Divorce Agreement in Tennessee

References

Related articles

Divorce & Legal Separation Laws in Pennsylvania

Technically, Pennsylvania’s statutes contain no mention of "legal separation." This is a bit misleading, however, because the state does recognize at least the concept of legal separation. If you and your spouse can agree to the terms of your separation in a written agreement, the state considers it binding upon both of you.

Tennessee Divorce Laws: How Soon After Divorce Can You Remarry?

Sometimes a divorcing spouse is anxious to finish the divorce because he wants to remarry. Technically, Tennessee law has no restrictions on how long you must be divorced to remarry, but you should wait at least 30 days. If your ex-spouse decides to appeal the case during this time period, you won't be divorced after all.

Does Separation Time Count in Divorce

The length of time you and your spouse are separated can play a part in your divorce proceedings under some circumstances, but in other cases, it doesn't matter at all. It depends entirely on where you live, and if you want to – or even can – file for divorce on fault grounds.

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