Leonid Rogozov cut out his own appendix. The Russian doctor did it out of necessity, in Antarctica in 1961, and we certainly are not recommending self-surgery. But if Dr. Rogozov could do that, surely you can write your own separation agreement for a Virginia separation.
Is it Legal to Write Your Own Separation Agreement?
Nothing in Virginia law forbids or prevents you from writing your own separation agreement. In fact, Virginia’s legal code carves out a special place for such agreements: Code of Virginia § 20-155 is aptly titled Marital agreements and says,
“Married persons may enter into agreements with each other for the purpose of settling the rights and obligations of either or both of them, to the same extent, with the same effect, and subject to the same conditions, as provided in §§ 20-147 through 20-154 for agreements between prospective spouses, except that such marital agreements shall become effective immediately upon their execution.”
Here is the tricky part: even though you are writing a legal document that will lead to you not being married, you and your spouse are married at the time you write it! The separation agreement (also called a property settlement agreement) is protected by the law.
Nowhere in Virginia’s Code does the law say you have to go before a family law attorney to write the paperwork. You can hit the law books, ask that friend who wanted to be a paralegal that one time, or find a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) separation agreement website.
Divorce, Yes; Separation? Not So Much
The good folks at the Circuit Court thoughtfully provide an online form for pursuing a no-fault divorce without payment of court fees or costs. That’s very nice and is a nod to those Virginians whose budgets are a bit tight, but it does nothing to help someone pursuing a separation agreement.
If you cannot turn to the courts themselves to get your paperwork started, and you are a bit intimidated by entire shelves of law books, and do not have the money for hour upon hour of a family law attorney’s time, then what?
The Do-It-Yourself Separation Agreement
Online is a Wild West of wildly inappropriate law advice and tools. If you find an online site guaranteeing to produce a fast, affordable, easy separation agreement “in minutes,” roam elsewhere. If you find an online site that advertises their separation agreements work “in most states,” close that page.
A worthy, reputable online DIY separation agreement website will offer a fully customizable template that works in Virginia and is specific to Virginia code. If the document you get, no matter the price you pay, is not specific to Virginia, it very well may be worthless.
Your first requisite is that a Virginia Circuit Court will accept your property settlement agreement and recognize your date of separation. All else after that falls into place.
I Don’t Know What All
After you verify you have something that works in Virginia, you need to make sure your circumstances work with the template. Not every situation can boil down to an interview template, but you may not even be aware of what you need to put into the document.
Your spouse may ask, “What all has to go into this thing?” You are stuck answering, “I don’t know what all.”
One DIY site is head and shoulders above the rest, because it can handle very nearly every circumstance you can think of, and many circumstances you can’t think of.
You can work out spousal support, property division, tax situations, child custody, and parenting time. You can get the right terminology, the right order of paragraphs; everything you need for writing the separation agreement.
Leonid Rogozov was a hero in Russia. He received an awesome award (the Order of the Red Banner of Labor — it’s no Oscar but it was very big over there, back then) and was a hit in appendectomy circles. Be your own hero. Visit EasyDIYDivorce.com and craft your own separation agreement using our customizable, Virginia-specific online separation agreement builder.