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Is your divorce settlement agreement legal?

Those who are going through a divorce may be tempted to bypass the court system and put together their own divorce settlement agreement. Unfortunately, this option may not be as successful as the couple thinks.  

Various issues can arise that negate the agreement, as recently discussed in a publication in the Huffington Post. Three specific examples that are most likely to impact divorcing couples include:

  • Limitations on legal rights. Any language within the agreement that attempts to limit the ability of a parent to collect child support would likely invalidate the agreement. Parents are legally required to provide financial assistance towards the rearing of their children. Furthermore, courts are allowed to consider the “best interest of the child,” a legal standard that includes the review of various factors to better ensure the child is placed in the best possible situation. Any attempt to limit that consideration would weaken the agreement.
  • Thwarting formalities. Legal formalities must be followed. A failure to do so results in an agreement that is likely unenforceable. Formalities like official signatures from each party and signatures of legal counsel representing each party are generally required.
  • Finality. Make sure the agreement is signed off by a judge as a final judgment. A failure to do so can result in an agreement that is very difficult to enforce. The ability to use court enforcement is generally only allowed for judicial orders, not contractual agreements. A failure to have the document signed off as a final judgment will likely result in a contractual agreement, which can be much more difficult to enforce.

Those who are tempted to put together their own agreements in an effort to maintain privacy may want to consider mediation. Unlike traditional litigation, these proceedings are generally kept private.

Regardless of the reason behind a desire to navigate one’s own divorce settlement agreement, it is still wise to seek legal counsel. An attorney can review the proposed agreement to see if all necessary protocol is followed, better ensuring the agreement would survive a future challenge. An attorney can also provide some guidance to help ensure your interests are protected during the divorce. 

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  • Wendy helped guide us through a very difficult and emotional process and was really able to provide an even and fair account for both parties. It's quite evident in her expertise in this area but the way she was able to make you feel safe and secure in a very insecure time goes far beyond her legal prowess. If the two parties are really willing to cooperate and collaborate, she's there to help gain the best possible solution for all involved, especially if there are children.
  • Regardless of how committed one is to the fact that divorce may be imminent and necessary, it is truly one of the most emotional and stressful situations one can experience. It can also be daunting. Wendy has a remarkable ability to cut through the noise and help you focus on the big picture while drilling down on what is most pertinent to your particular situation., they are a formidable team who work collectively with your best interests in mind.
  • Wendy and her staff were a delight to work with. During this difficult process I felt confident that the outcome would be fair and balanced, as it did. Very supportive, always well prepared and very knowledgeable. Would choose them all over again!
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