How to Get Help with a Separation Agreement
Having your separation agreement in writing is the best idea because then it can become part of the divorce decree and the court can help make sure both you and your spouse follow the separation agreement after the divorce. It is very important that you and your spouse have the proper legal advice about the terms of your agreement on the issues laid out above. Especially as a military family, there are rights, benefits, and protections you need to understand before you sign any agreement because after you sign a separation agreement, it could be too late for an attorney to fix any places that you have signed away these rights, benefits, and protections.
Our Hampton Roads military divorce attorneys frequently hear from people who have a divorce decree but are seeking to go back to court because they are dissatisfied. When parties attempt to draft their own written separation agreement, referred to as a “Marital Settlement Agreement” (MSA), there are many issues that can arise. The language in the separation agreement might be imprecise, so the separation agreement does not actually reflects the parties’ “meeting of the minds” on particular issues. In other situations, the separation agreement might be silent on details that later create conflict and ambiguity. When the agreement is inaccurate or misleading, contentious and expensive litigation can be the unavoidable result.
Another common scenario we see when divorcing parents attempt to craft their own MSA is the inclusion of terms that can be or are unenforceable. For example, parents might agree to a parenting plan that excuses the obligation to pay child support. Because children have the right to receive financial support from both parents, the right to child support cannot be waived by the parents. There are numerous other arrangements that might not be enforceable, so it is important to make sure your separation agreement is drafted by an experienced Virginia marital dissolution lawyer.
The worst scenario involves a MSA that is approved as part of the judgment which later becomes unfair because certain issues were not considered. If the financial arrangements in the MSA are determined to be unenforceable or one of the parties fails to comply with a requirement, such as refinancing of a loan on the family residence, the fairness of the entire separation agreement can be impacted. The spouse who gave up equity in the home based on an assurance the other party would refinance the home might be unable to qualify to buy a new house following the divorce. Our lawyers at The Military Family Divorce Center review the terms of an MSA to identify potential problems that could later make the separation agreement profoundly unfair.