Tag Archives: divorce

What is Divorce Settled by Agreement?

divorce settled by agreementWhen a divorce is settled via an agreement, it’s called a divorce settlement, marital settlement or collaborative settlement agreement. The agreement allows you and your spouse to have a written agreement that spells out the terms of your divorce. The agreement specifically covers one or more of the following:

A divorce settlement agreement becomes binding when it’s incorporated into your divorce decree. If you or your spouse violates any part of the agreement, a judge may hold you in contempt of court.

The Agreement can be Drafted Any Time Prior to a Divorce

A divorce settlement agreement is ideal for any couple able to put their differences aside or are on speaking terms. It requires a lot of negotiation to agree on the different terms. You and your spouse can come to an agreement at any time before you separate and until your divorce trial.

Depending on your circumstances, you and your spouse may employ the help of a mediator or divorce lawyer. The mediator or lawyer will lead the negotiations and try to find common ground to make an agreement on specific terms.

You and your spouse may be tempted to handle the negotiations without help. However, it is highly recommended that you discuss your settlement with a divorce lawyer. You want a lawyer who will represent only you, not one hired to represent both of you. You need to know your legal rights.

Also, you want a lawyer to prepare your divorce agreement. It doesn’t matter if you or your spouse prepared one. Hiring a lawyer to prepare the document ensures that vital legal provisions are corrected, added or deleted.

The right legal language is used. Terms like, sole custody, waive all future claims or exclusive possession mean something. For instance, you may intend to have shared custody, but sole custody is written instead. This means that you’ve given up your rights to have joint custody to your child.

Should You Sign a Divorce Settlement Agreement You Don’t Agree With?

No. The best thing to do in this situation is discuss it with an attorney. It’s tempting to sign an agreement because you want to start over, but you must think about your future. If your spouse prepares the first draft—even if you agreed to everything verbally—still have an attorney look over it. This should be done no matter how much pressure is put on you by your spouse, family or even yourself. In fact, you nor your spouse have to sign the agreement. You won’t get into any legal trouble. Instead, you will start over again or go to divorce court.

Speaking with a Lawyer

A divorce changes your financial life drastically. Unfortunately, many individuals don’t realize that they may lose a lot of money after a divorce. So you will want to discuss how a divorce and/or divorce settlement will change yours with a lawyer:

  • Finances
  • Health insurance
  • Property ownership
  • Cost of living
  • Retirement plans

A divorce settlement agreement can be modified when there are changes in you or your spouse’s life. However, there are certain terms that can’t be changed depending on the wording of your original divorce agreement. For instance, it may be in the agreement that alimony is non-modifiable. In that case, you can’t go back and ask for a reduction or increase later.

What is a Prenup?

Once upon a time couples who married stayed married, but that simply is not the case anymore. what-is-a-prenupDivorce has become increasingly common, and because of this, many people now feel it is necessary to protect themselves and their assets from the possibility of their marriage ending in divorce. Prenuptial agreements are one way to do just that. A Prenuptial agreement, sometimes called a prenup, is a contract that outlines what will happen in the case of a divorce. They usually focus on the division of property and assets, and often times outline any alimony or support settlements in the case of divorce.

The stipulations of a prenuptial agreement are unique to each couple. For example, some agreements have further clauses that change settlement amounts if adultery is the cause of the dissolution of the marriage. Prenups can also make arrangements in the event of one’s death rather than in the event of a divorce. Prenups stipulations will depend almost entirely on the couple in question and what they consider valuable as they enter into a marriage.

What are the Requirements for a Prenup?

In the United States a prenuptial agreement is considered valid, and it is recognized in every state, however, not all prenuptial agreements are enforced, and some have found ways to have prenups thrown out or invalidated in court. In order to be considered a valid contract it must meet the following requirements;

  • The prenuptial agreement must be written. Oral contracts are not enforceable.
  • Both parties must sign the contract voluntarily in front of counsel who can attest that both parties entered into the contract willingly.
  • Both parties must be completely informed of the others intentions and assets.
  • Both parties must sign the contract in front of a notary for it to be deemed valid.
  • The document must be signed prior to the issuing of the marriage license. ‘

Because of the requirements of the contract many agreements have been thrown out or deemed invalid when brought to court. Most commonly, people argue that the prenup was not entered into willingly, or that they were coerced to sign the agreement. Often times one party can also argue that they were not offered full disclosure by the other party at the time of the agreement, thus making it invalid.

When Do Couples Need Prenups?

Some will argue that a prenup is only intended for the very rich or very famous as they are the people who need to protect their assets from a divorce. Well, that’s not exactly the case. Some lawyers argue that every couple should have a prenup. Simply put, divorces are messy. Whether you are going through a divorce a year into the marriage of 15 years into the marriage, you should want to make the process as smooth as possible, and prenups do just that. Not to mention, just because you aren’t rich today, doesn’t mean you won’t be rich someday. Today’s waiter may turn into tomorrow’s best seller, today’s college dropout may turn into tomorrow’s technology tycoon. Fact of the matter is that you never know where you will be or how your marriage will pan out, so it is best to protect yourself at the onset and ensure if your marriage ends it can end amicably, or at least, with the least amount of hassle.

Divorce vs Separation

Divorce Vs SeparationThe pain of a marriage ending is one of the most difficult things most people will ever experience. It is a devastating life event that has the potential to ruin not only your relationships but leave you financially destitute. Divorce is one of the leading causes of depression and bankruptcy for good reason. It can quite literally rip your entire life in half and leave you to pick up the pieces.

Given how serious and irrevocable a step divorce is, you may be thinking about separation instead. Before making this decision, you must understand the differences between separation and divorce. The finality of divorce is well known, and at that time your legal relationship with your spouse will be fully dissolved. There may be some circumstances where this is not ideal. Many spouses have joint property or business ventures that would need to be sold and divided as community property, and that may be a financial move that would benefit neither partner.

A separation may be a good alternative to immediate dissolution of marriage if either or both parties have not given up on the chance of reconciliation. Many couples simply need to live apart for a time and outline a living arrangement that works for them both while disputes are resolved. Others may not be ready to sell and divide property. It may not be possible for you to yet envision what your life will be like without your spouse, and you may not know what you are going to do without them. A separation gives the opportunity to grow into mutual independence with less financial shock to the system.

The saying goes that marriages come and go, but divorce is forever. There is some truth to this. Even in the event of a reconciliation after a divorce that culminates in remarriage, this does not undo the divorce so much as enter into a completely distinct legal marriage agreement. It does not undo the financial and family turmoil that the original dissolution caused. If reconciliation is a possibility, even a remote one, a period of separation is something that you must consider.

On the other hand, if you are utterly convinced that divorce is the only option and your spouse feels the same, a separation may do more harm than good. Remaining financially and legally linked may cause further financial and legal damage as two spouses make financial decisions that are the best for them at the expense of their ex, running up debts and squandering assets. Actions such as this are among the leading causes of divorce anyway, and if this is the case a quicker dissolution may be called for.

California law requires a six month waiting period after you have served your spouse with a petition for divorce. This must be added to the time that it will take to prepare the documents, agree on financial agreements and parenting plans, and however long it may take for you to get a court date. With a lengthy separation added to this, the entire legal nightmare could drag on for years. An immediate filing for dissolution, and a commitment to competing negotiations on every point of dispute, can go a long way toward making your divorce go as quickly and smoothly as circumstances allow.

Divorce vs separation, whatever choice you make, remember that decision must take into account what is best for you and your children. Separation and divorce can be equally traumatic for children, but how difficult it has to be is still in your hands. Neither a separation nor a divorce is an easy step to take.