People who are having trouble in their marriages and feel they want to get divorced are often still ambivalent about it. They realize they can't go on with the relationship as it currently stands, but believe there may still be a chance of saving it. An interim legal measure that can permit a couple to explore whether their marriage can work, yet acknowledges the possibility of eventual divorce, is to have a separation agreement prepared.
A separation agreement spells out the rights and obligations of each individual while they live apart. It covers property division, child custody, maintenance and support, visitation and all the other issues that would normally be addressed in a formal divorce.
The term of the agreement lasts at least one year, during which you are still legally married, although not living together. During that period, you gain time and space to collect your thoughts, and experience what it's like to be apart. You can then consider whether you and your spouse should try again to make your marriage work.
If not, after a year, the agreement automatically outlines the terms of an uncontested divorce. To convert the separation agreement into a divorce will require several more steps, but the process is more streamlined than it would otherwise be without one. On the other hand, if the two of you work things out, you can simply remain married.