Irwin E. Blond


In the calendar year of 1968 an estimated 537,000 divorces took place in the United States. In many of these divorces the respective future rights and responsibilities of the parties were fixed in a written agreement known as the "Separation Agreement." The purpose of this comment is to present the practical problems encountered in Missouri in the use of such agreements and to suggest possible solutions for them. In the absence of an agreement respecting the future responsibilities of the parties, the court's authority in such matters is limited. According to section 452.070, RSMo 1969, the court can grant a decree of divorce or separate maintenance and pursuant to such decree it may award alimony, custody of the children, support for the children, attorney's fees, and court costs. Specific personal property may only be decreed to the wife in a divorce suit pursuant to an agreement of the parties. In Bishop v. Bishop, the court stated that, in the absence of an agreement, it has no authority "to adjudicate a settlement of property rights, or to divest the title to property, real or personal out of one party and vest it in the other." Also, a valid separation agreement can limit the court's authority in the disposition of alimony. Therefore, a separation agreement can serve a very useful purpose and, in effect, either broaden or restrict the court's authority.

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