Merging Agreements vs. Surviving Agreements
Separation Agreements either "merge" or "survive" a Judgment of Divorce. When a separation agreement is merged into a Judgment of Divorce, its terms are incorporated into the judgment and are modifiable by the court, because the court always has the power, in the proper situation to revise or modify it's own Judgment. A merging separation agreement has no independent legal significance. It is simply a substitute for a judgment of the court, that is entered and has no greater or lesser power than a judgment of the court entered after trial.
If a separation agreement survives a Judgment of Divorce, its terms are also incorporated in the Judgment of divorce, but because it does not merge into the judgment, the separation agreement stands as a contract with independent legal significance. Like any contract, it can be enforced in a civil proceeding in Superior Court, or enforcement can be had in Probate Court, where, because it has also been incorporated in the judgment of divorce, the violation of the agreement is enforceable under the contempt power of the Court.
Contact Attorney Nick Carbone at our office to get started on your divorce, custody, or modification action.