We Can Work It Out – Separation and Settlement Agreements

April 23, 2014

When two parties separate, they should consider negotiating a separation and property settlement agreement so they can avoid going through a trial.  If the parties can work it out, the end result will be an agreement that outlines the terms of settlement.  Before you sign a final separation and settlement agreement, consider these points:

1 – The authors of the separation and settlement agreement can be as creative as they want.  You and your attorney can come up with creative solutions to your specific circumstances.  Don’t let an attorney or your spouse tell you that there is only one way for a favorable outcome.  For example, if you have a piece of art with sentimental value to both of you, you can come up with ways to share it.  If there is a vacation property that you want to keep, split the winter breaks or summer breaks so you both can enjoy it.

2 – A separation and settlement agreement is a private contract signed by you and your spouse.  Therefore you are bound by this contract.  It is important that you don’t sign anything without having it reviewed by a family law attorney licensed in your state.   A court will not set aside an agreement just because you decide later you don’t like the terms of the agreement.

3 – Custody, visitation, and child support are always subject to change, so don’t give away financial assets to gain custody.  For example, if you give away assets and get custody of your children, your spouse can still file a motion to modify custody in the future to try to get custody of your children.  In other words, if you give up everything to obtain custody, you may still lose custody in the future.

4 – Details are important and add clarity.  Make sure you have specific times and dates by which things will be completed.  Also include times and dates for visitation and drop offs for children.  Vagueness can create misunderstandings and land you back in court for clarification.

5 – You can have a partial agreement.  Remember that you don’t have to resolve all issues related to your divorce.  If you don’t come to a full agreement of all the issues, you can sign an agreement for some of the issues.  Some parties only agree to the financial terms, but cannot agree about custody.  This is perfectly acceptable.  Even a partial agreement will save time and money.

Entering a separation and settlement agreement can be a very cost effective way to resolve the issues arising from your marriage, but you want to ensure that it is well drafted and protects your interests.  Khadilkar Law has experience in drafting separation and settlement agreements and can help you avoid the pitfalls.  Contact us for a consultation.

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