These days you can find forms for all sorts of legal matters, particularly divorce and separation agreements. Many people try to use the fill in the blank agreements purporting to handle their property and debts, deal with alimony, child custody, and the child support issues.
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract. Unless you understand how the law works, how property is transferred, legal obligations with regards to debt, spousal support, child support, and child custody, you could make multiple BIG mistakes. Just because you didn’t understand or relied on what you thought was the law won’t fix these mistakes. Trying to fix these mistakes after the fact can cost you more time, money, and endless frustration than it would have if you hired an attorney to begin with.
Save Time and Money
A properly prepared Separation Agreement can save you time and money. The agreement is your private resolution of the case and can be enforced like other contracts. It is usually faster than court action and everyone knows how things are going to go. In other words, you have certainty. If properly done, most parties only have to wait out the required year to get an absolute divorce.
You should get an attorney involved early on in any separation agreement. Issues can include property division, debt division, spousal support, custody and child support. While custody and child support can be dealt with in a Separation Agreement, it is more common practice to do those things by a consent order. A lawyer can explain to you the advantages to a consent order in custody and support cases over a Separation Agreement. Additionally, a lawyer can help you be sure you understand what you are signing and the legal consequences of the agreement.
Finally, you may ask why doesn’t everyone do a Separation Agreement? You cannot be forced to sign any contract and you should not do so “just to get it over with.” Negotiations can be long and drawn out, which is frustrating. In those situations, court may be your answer.
The attorneys at Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long, LLP are well versed in family law and can guide you during this process. If you are thinking about divorce or separation, we can help. Contact our office for further information.