Eric B. Gans, a family lawyer in Long Beach, discusses whether or not a separation agreement can stop a spouse from hassling their spouse.
Will a separation agreement stop my spouse from hassling me?
Maybe, maybe not. The purpose of a typical separation agreement is to create a transition plan that addresses the most time-sensitive issues related to dissolving a relationship. These issues can include almost anything. For example: whether one spouse has the need for payments of support (child and spousal) from the other spouse; deciding who will be entitled to remain in the marital residence; allocating the payment of certain shared expenses (e.g., mortgage or rental payments, utilities, health insurance, car insurance, debt payments, etc.); determining custody and visitation issues; and dividing up certain items of property (e.g., furniture). The point of this transition plan is to put you and your spouse on a stable footing in the short term so you have the time and space to negotiate a long-term agreement, or failing that, present the issues to a judge.
Even if you reach a separation agreement with your spouse, he or she may not be completely satisfied. Or they may continue to “hassle” you for other reasons completely unrelated to any legal issue, such as the demise of your relationship. One way to seek an end to the persistent badgering is to tell your spouse that you only wish to discuss the case through your attorney. Most spouses will eventually get the message, and your attorney can keep the communications focused on achieving a productive resolution. However, if the pressure from your spouse becomes overwhelming, and the “hassling” escalates into harassment, threats, or actual violence, you may need to report the matter to law enforcement authorities and discuss the possibility of seeking a restraining order with your attorney.
Eric B. Gans is a family lawyer at OxtonStaabGans in Santa Barbara, California. www.oxtonstaabgans.com