Once you and your spouse separate you will want to draw up a separation agreement. Some states recognize legal separation, some don’t. If your state recognizes legal separation, your attorney or court clerk will be able to advise you and help you set up an agreement. If your state does not recognize legal separation, you will want your attorney to file a petition for an interim order.
An interim order from the court sets out covers issues such as child support, custody, visitation and who pays what and when. The legal separation agreement and interim order are put in place to protect all parties to the divorce between the time you separate and the divorce becomes final.
Be warned though that an interim order or separation agreement can and most of the time does influence the final divorce settlement agreement. In other words do not agree to anything in the separation agreement or interim agreement unless you feel you can live with it once the divorce is final.
If, during the negotiating phase of your divorce you and your spouse end up in court a judge is likely to use your separation agreement as a guideline when making his/her decision about your final agreement. So, make sure that you separation agreement or interim agreement are as close as possible to what you hope to walk away with once the divorce is final.