Maryland Separation Agreement Attorney

When you are divorcing your spouse, a Maryland separation agreement attorney can help you streamline this difficult process. At James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, we are deeply aware of the emotional and financial toll of a divorce — especially when children are involved. Separation agreements can cover a wide variety of issues and limit the need for litigation. However, a poorly drafted separation agreement can result in future disputes. Before you sign a divorce settlement agreement, make sure it’s in your best interests.

What Is a Separation Agreement?

The Goal
To reach a divorce separation agreement to mediation or negotiation without the hassle of years of protracted litigation and high cost.

When someone finds out that their spouse wants a divorce it may come as a shock or surprise, even though you’ve known that you’ve had problems in your marriage. Alternatively, if you’re the one asking for the separation and divorce, perhaps you didn’t think about it for a long time. Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt the best way to amicably resolve the entire situation is a divorce separation agreement.

Why Hire the Law Offices of James E. Crawford Jr. & Associates?

When you sit down with one of our lawyers you will be speaking to a highly experienced domestic attorney. That’s exactly what you need in this situation because many people get steered improperly by unscrupulous lawyers.

After years of experience in handling thousands of these matters, I certainly believe that with 80% of the couples that separate there is a good chance to reach a resolution. Of course, there are times when it cannot happen and that is when your lawyer needs to be aggressive in obtaining the end result you need. However, a separation agreement attorney seizes an opportunity to try to resolve the situation when the arm is high. Many times people think it is useless and there is no way it can be resolved, when in fact it can. Our attorneys are taught how to try and resolve the situations before any escalation occurs.

What Is a Separation Agreement?

What I mean by the above statement is that if in fact, you can resolve your situation through a comprehensive separation agreement, everything is done. That doesn’t mean you divorced but it means you can move on with your life and have peace of mind as far as what needs to be done. No more guessing and wondering whether or not you will be able to survive or whether or not you will be able to see the kids in the future. After the separation agreement is done, all that needs to be completed is the divorce itself. Most of the time courts will “incorporate but not merge” the separation property agreement into the absolute divorce decree.

Separation agreements include issues such as;

  • Issues regarding children – most parents think this is the biggest issue in a divorce and it usually is. Custody, legal, absolute or joint custody all play a part in the agreement finalization. Sometimes parenting agreements will be incorporated into this provision of the separation agreement.
  • Businesses – those who own businesses often care greatly about what happens to their ability to continue operating the business after the divorce. Income, assets, coworkers and employees all are important considerations.
  • Real property – the marital home is usually the largest asset most couples have. Vacation homes, additional vehicles, savings, bank accounts, investment accounts all play a part in the final resolution and are included in the agreement.
  • Alimony or spousal support.
  • Child custody and visitation.
  • Child support payments.
  • Insurance issues.
  • Property and debt distribution.
  • Other matters relating to your marriage and assets.

Just about every major issue, and even most minor issues, is included in the agreement. An experienced attorney should draft these agreements because it is not always what is included in the agreement, but sometimes what was specifically left out. Many people think they can get these forms online and truthfully they could be a good teaching tool to locate yourself, but you could be making a major mistake by not using the experience of a highly trained attorney.

Call us and take the first step to resolve the situation. It may be easier than you think.

Call us at 443-709-9999 or contact us online. My office offers free consultations for all prospective Family Law clients.

While you and your spouse can enter an oral separation agreement, this isn’t in your best interests. Later on, if there is a disagreement about the terms and conditions of your oral agreement, it might be difficult to substantiate your claims. Instead, it’s best to draft a clear, unambiguous written document with the help of a separation agreement attorney.

Once you agree to the terms of a written separation agreement, your lawyer will typically present it to the judge. If the separation agreement is consistent with public policy, the judge will incorporate the terms of your separation agreement into your divorce decree. Once it is incorporated, a divorce separation agreement becomes legally binding in Maryland.

The Benefits of a Separation Agreement

Most divorcing couples in Maryland could benefit from a separation agreement. And, Maryland judges and courts encourage separation agreements because they are an efficient and peaceful way to end a marriage. Finalizing a contested divorce is a long and arduous process. A separation agreement simplifies your divorce. Instead of litigating every issue concerning support payments, property, and marital debts, you privately negotiate the terms of your divorce. For this reason, a separation agreement can help you avoid unnecessary legal expenses and public hearings.

Additionally, your separation agreement can contain provisions that could not be court-ordered, such as college tuition assistance for your children. Unless your separation agreement specifically addresses college expenses, a non-custodial parent’s obligation to pay child support typically ends once your child turns 18 or graduates from high school. However, parents can privately agree to additional support. Once this agreement is incorporated into a divorce decree, it is legally binding on both parties.

Alternative Dispute Resolution and Separation Agreements

Sometimes, a married couple can agree to the terms of a separation agreement easily. However, many divorces become contentious — especially when they involve a child or extensive marital property. In these cases, you might need professional help resolving your child support, alimony, and property distribution issues.

In these cases, your separation agreement attorney — or the court — might suggest alternative dispute resolution or mediation. During mediation, you, your spouse, and your lawyers will meet with a neutral, trained mediator. (Most mediators have experience as lawyers or former judges.) The mediator will:

  • Listen to your arguments and demands;
  • Ask questions about your willingness to compromise;
  • Look for areas where you and your spouse might agree;
  • Guide you through negotiations.

If mediation succeeds, your separation agreement attorney will draft a written document. At James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, we will guide you through the entire negotiation and mediation process, providing aggressive representation and thoughtful advice at every step. Contact us today for more information.

Enforcing a Maryland Separation Agreement

If your separation agreement was incorporated into a divorce decree, your ex might be in contempt of court if he or she violates its terms. This might result in jail time and other penalties. If your separation agreement was not incorporated into a divorce decree, you can file a breach of contract claim against your ex. Sometimes, there is a legitimate dispute about the terms of your separation agreement. In these cases, a separation agreement attorney will help you evaluate your legal claims under Maryland’s family and contract laws. If you need help, contact James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates.

Changing or Revoking a Separation Agreement

You typically can modify or revoke a separation agreement by drafting and signing a new, revised version. If your circumstances have changed and you need a revised separation agreement, contact a separation agreement attorney at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates. We will evaluate your case, negotiate with your ex, and draft a clear and enforceable contract on your behalf.

Consult With a Maryland Separation Agreement Attorney

A Maryland separation agreement attorney will help you create a separation agreement that protects your property, visitation rights, and simplifies the divorce process. At James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates we use over two decades of experience to negotiate fair and enforceable agreements. And, if negotiations do not succeed, we can fight on your behalf in court. Contact us for a private consultation today.


The attorneys at James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates have represented clients in the state of Maryland since 1993. Mr. Crawford established the firm in the hopes of providing personalized services to clients going through trying family law issues. Since then, he has worked with his personally-trained attorneys at his firm to help hundreds of clients throughout the state to maintain their reputation and protect their assets.

Our team at James E. Crawford Jr. & Associates practice law and fighting for their clients throughout the entire State of Maryland, including Baltimore, Catonsville, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford, Howard, Kent, Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Queen Anne’s counties. In our approach to representing our clients, we provide both positive results and a comprehensive education of the legal system throughout the process, guaranteeing each client a smoother and less intimidating experience during their case.

As part of the divorce process, the typical first step involves the establishment of a Separation Agreement. A couple with little hope of reconciliation may privately enter into an oral or written agreement to live apart. When the ground for divorce is voluntary separation, a separation agreement may be used as evidence to obtain the divorce.

A separation agreement should provide for the following:

  • The care, custody, and support of the children;
  • The amount of support one spouse will contribute to the other;
  • Provisions for a continuation of health insurance benefits; and;
  • The division of property while the husband and wife are living apart, including what will happen to the property upon divorce.

Such a separation agreement does not terminate the contract of marriage nor does it free the parties to remarry.  In addition, the parties are not free to have sexual relations with another person, as this constitutes adultery.

Revoking a Settlement Agreement

The separation agreement can be revoked by a second agreement in writing or simply by the parties living together again as husband and wife.  Living together does not automatically revoke the agreement; it is the only evidence of an intention to revoke it.

Enforcing a Settlement Agreement

If one party violates a settlement agreement, the other may bring a lawsuit for violation of the agreement, alleging a breach of contract. To ensure enforceability in the family courts, however, the parties should have the separation agreement incorporated, but not merged, into the divorce decree. While the court will generally honor the parties’ agreements as set forth in the separation agreement, the court may modify provisions affecting the care, custody, education, maintenance, and support of the children in order to protect their best interests.

Most people cannot properly handle a divorce without the guidance of an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer. Divorces can quickly become emotionally charged and contentious — especially if the case involves children and significant assets (or debts). Without a lawyer, you might agree to an unfair divorce settlement or lose valuable time with your children. However, a lawyer can help you avoid a trial by negotiating a fair divorce settlement. And, if a trial is needed, a divorce lawyer will craft defenses to your spouse’s claims.

Free Consultation with a Premiere Maryland Family Law Attorney

If you’re in need of a Family Law attorney in Maryland, you might not know where to begin. Let us help you.

If you are considering a divorce, it’s in your best interest to consult with a Maryland divorce lawyer. At James E. Crawford Jr. & Associates, we have guided our clients through divorces and legal separations since 1992. We provide compassionate advice and aggressive legal representation, ensuring that our clients receive their fair share of child custody and marital property. If you are in need of a Maryland Family Law lawyer, contact James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates at 443-709-9999 today.