At the end of a marriage, ex-spouses have to make tough decisions about family matters like property division, asset distribution, alimony and – if they have children – custody and support. The decisions are formalized in a divorce settlement agreement signed by both parties.
Divorce settlement agreements are also known as marital settlement agreements, divorce agreements and separation agreements. Regardless of what they are called, the documents are legally binding. As such, they suit the divorcing couple and withstand the scrutiny of the courts. Failure to do so can result in discord between ex-spouses following the divorce or the agreement being set aside by a judge.
Below are some tips that will help you to prepare this critical document.
Consider Hiring a Divorce Lawyer
Settlement agreements can get complicated, especially when they involve children and numerous assets. They must also conform to federal, provincial and territorial laws. A generic template may be suitable for a simple divorce settlement agreement, but if you have children or multiple assets, consider hiring a divorce lawyer in Surrey.
Surrey divorce lawyers can explain the drafting process and outline your legal rights and responsibilities concerning your children, property and spousal support. Divorce lawyers can also negotiate terms on your behalf, revise the settlement agreement, draft the final document and generally represent your interests during the drafting process.
Compile Detailed Information
You will need personal and financial details to complete a settlement agreement. These details include marriage and separation dates, your current address, living arrangements, life insurance, bank account and real estate records, and pension, income, debt and liability details. Compile the requisite information carefully and thoroughly, as omitting information can lead to legal consequences.
Use Simple, Unambiguous Language
While a settlement agreement is a legal document, that does not mean it must be filled with legalese or complex language. Use clear, simple terms to prevent ambiguity or confusion. Understandably, some legal terms and clauses come standard with a contract. An experienced divorce lawyer can determine how best to incorporate terms and clauses into your agreement.
Include As Much Detail As Possible
A divorce agreement should be as detailed as possible and include specifics. Take the time to consider all eventualities and make provisions in the contract. Leave no room for uncertainties. If you discuss an issue as an aside that is relevant to the settlement, include it in the agreement. Having a settlement that covers all bases reduces the possibility of disagreements later.
Be Willing to Compromise
You may not be able to get everything you want in a divorce settlement so try not to get too attached to any asset. Focus on what your priorities are and be willing to make compromises during negotiations. Failure to compromise can cause the courts to settle matters for you. Going to court can be costly and time-consuming and should be avoided if possible.
Avoid Using Undue Influence
Drafting divorce settlement agreements requires the input of both ex-spouses. Avoid any attempt at coercion. The courts will set aside settlement agreements in which undue influence is used.
Thoroughly Review the Agreement
Once you have signed a settlement agreement, you are legally obligated to adhere to its terms and conditions. Thoroughly review its contents before signing to ensure that the terms and conditions communicated on paper are as you intended. Make sure there are no errors, inaccuracies or omissions. Omissions or errors discovered post-signature are difficult to modify.
Speak With a Divorce Lawyer in Surrey
Divorce settlement agreements can be complicated to draft and emotionally challenging. Even the savviest divorcing couples should seek legal assistance with the drafting process. At ALG Lawyers, our team of experienced divorce lawyers have extensive knowledge of the drafting process and are available to meet with you to begin discussing your case. Call us at 604-337-6254 or request a consultation via our online contact form.