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Divorce and Settlement Agreements. To Agree or Not to Agree?

Tonight's post on Divorce and Settlement Agreements was written by one of our Marietta Divorce Attorneys, Alyssa Blanchard.

It goes without saying that going through a divorce is stressful. There are many things that go into ending the life that you once shared with your spouse. In the midst of this process your first thought may be to get through it and get it done quickly. However, it is important to keep in mind that once the divorce is over, you have to start the next chapter of your life. You certainly don't want your future tainted by a hasty present decision.

Consider this: years ago, when I was a paralegal, I worked on a Contempt action. A contempt is an action filed when a party violates the terms of the Court's Order. This particular contempt came from the Opposing Party's violation of the Settlement Agreement. We represented the former wife and were filing a contempt against the former husband. He had agreed to pay for his two children's education beyond high school. At the time of the divorce, his children were very young. When we filed for Contempt, his oldest was in medical school and the youngest, in college, was planning to attend medical school.

Wonderful, right?

According to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, there was no limit on how much postsecondary education the former husband had to pay for. Now, there is nothing wrong with paying for your child's education. However, I'm sure sitting in jail with $20,000 worth of arrears for educational expenses, this father wished he had paid more attention to the Settlement Agreement before signing.

Do not be that guy.

Often times I have clients who come in and they just want to "get it over with." That is understandable. It is alright to want to finalize your divorce and move on with your life. But don't just agree to any terms in a Settlement Agreement just because you want to finish quickly. Haste makes waste. Don't end up with a Contempt action in the future because you agreed to financial terms you will not be able to afford in a post-divorce world. Don't give more than you would legally be required to. Don't end up looking back wishing you had taken your time and considered all of your options.

During the process of divorce, your attorney is your best asset. Your attorney will read through your Settlement Agreement, instruct you on what your rights are, and help you make the best decision in settlement negotiations. Read through your Settlement Agreement, ask questions and know what you are agreeing to.

The idea of going back and forth with your soon-to-be-ex may be frustrating. However, these negotiations are important. Do not try to skip this important step. 

To agree or not to agree? That is the question. The answer is ultimately up to you. When you are working through settlement negotiations, take your time, be reasonable and be well advised. Make sure that you fully understand the terms of the agreement.

Don't go to jail tomorrow for what you could have avoided agreeing to today.

Alyssa Blanchard

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