4 Common Mistakes Made When Signing a Separation Agreement
The pain of separation comes with difficult decisions. As the process ends, you come face to face with the reality of finality that comes with knowing that what perhaps took years to nurture has ended. In the process, emotions run high, and the hurt and dejection can cause you to make serious mistakes that could cost you big time.
Before you append your signature on the separation agreement, set your emotions aside and think deeply about the terms of that agreement and their implications from this moment forward. The following are some mistakes you should avoid making.
1. Signing an Agreement That Doesn’t Cover All the Necessary Items
Sometimes couples hurry to get it done with. In the rush, they overlook some crucial items. They cover only those items that they think are the most important. These include issues to do with visitation and the custody of the child. This should however not be the case. A separation agreement should ideally include all dimensions of the marriage. Issues such as who gets to pay for what, and who gets what should be indicated clearly on the agreement. Leave nothing to chance.
It is better to be exhaustive than to be scanty when listing the aspects of a severed marriage. You would rather strike items off your list than having to worry about what you may have missed. Essentially, a separation agreement should make the separation process more bearable, but you could be inviting later court action if you leave out some items out of the document.
2. Not Fully Addressing All Issues
This is obviously a huge mistake to make. While a couple may agree on who gets child custody and other issues such as child support and visitation, if other important issues such as health insurance or what cause of action to take if the party paying child support dies, etc, there could be potential problems; some which may require litigation in court.
A watertight separation agreement should make provisions for such contingencies and clearly stipulate the course of action in case of their eventuality. It is therefore important to have an experienced attorney to scrutinize the agreement and raise any red flags should he or she find any.
3. Making Provisions for Things You Have No Legal Responsibility
It is not unusual to come across separation agreements featuring provisions for a minor’s college expenses. Technically, as a parent, there is no law requiring you to make such a provision and you should not feel obligated to be boxed into one just because of a separation or a divorce. Absurd separation agreements exist that will blow your mind. Consider an agreement that binds a parent to buy a car for each child upon graduation from high school. This is not either of the parents’ responsibility, and it should not find it’s way into a separation agreement.
4. Not Hiring a Divorce or Separation Attorney
Divorce lawyers have seen it all; that is if they have any record of accomplishment to write home about. A separation or divorce agreement is a binding document that you should take seriously. Not having a divorce attorney go through the separation agreement is, perhaps, the biggest mistake you can make. Such an attorney can advise you about what to agree to and what you should say a flat NO to. If you get a competent family lawyer to help you with the process, the consultancy fee you pay them is compensated by an agreement that will stand the test of time.
Before you sign on the dotted line, remember that your life and that of your child is likely to change in dramatic ways. Make sure that you do not box yourself into a corner by being lackadaisical about the process.