A separation agreement is a written document that addresses all of the issues you and your spouse need to resolve when preparing for a separation or divorce. The main issues include division or property, assets, debt, as well as child custody and parenting responsibilities. Separation can be an extremely emotional time for many men, which makes it easy for men to make mistakes during this process. So, here are the top 3 mistakes to avoid in your separation agreement.
1. Rushing into Signing the Separation Agreement
When I was going through the separation process I was extremely distraught and emotionally unstable. I wanted the process to be over with and was in a rush to do everything. I was in a rush to move out, see the mediator, separate the finances, create a child custody calendar, and sign the agreement to make it official.
I got extremely lucky that my spouse helped slow down the process. She wanted to consult a lawyer which was totally understandable. However, over the course of six months she hired and fired three lawyers. She ran into a string of bad luck and the process took forever. In the interim, I also decided to consult a lawyer. This time afforded me the better part of a year to see what it was like to be separated, to be a single parent, and to face the challenges of co-parenting during separation.
In the end, we made multiple revisions to the original separation agreement (even though we both thought the original agreement we created with the mediator was totally fair). We modified child support payments, parenting arrangements, added a holiday schedule, got more specific on a number of other topics, and so much more. Is it a perfect separation agreement? I doubt it. But it is certainly much better than the original version that I wanted to rush and sign early on.
2. Letting Your Emotions Guide Your Decisions
Often when a marriage comes to an end you will experience feelings of hurt, anger, confusion and loneliness. This is not the time to make any rash decisions. One of the obvious mistakes to avoid in your separation agreement is to make any serious decisions while you are still in an unstable emotional state.
Far too often men take a “fuck it” attitude. You may feel so betrayed that you just want to walk away and let your spouse have everything. While it’s understandable that you have these feelings, you have to avoid acting on them. Be patient. Take the time to work on yourself and get your emotions in check.Any extreme decisions that you make in your separation early on while you are in an irrational emotional state will definitely hurt you in the future. Click To Tweet
3. Not Consulting with a Lawyer
Your separation agreement is a legal document. It will become a part of your divorce decree and will legally bind you for the rest of your life in regards to your ex-spouse and children. Any intention to amend a signed separation agreement will be an expensive and a difficult task in most cases.
You don’t have to hire a lawyer to represent you in court, or negotiate on your behalf. That can certainly get expensive. You can just hire a lawyer to read your agreement and give feedback. That’s it. They will advise you on the legalities of your agreement and make sure your interests are represented fairly. You can bring the recommendations back to the original mediator and discuss them with your spouse to make any appropriate changes.
I wasn’t going to hire a lawyer because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. I thought that I was “smart” enough to navigate this process on my own. Fortunately, I realized that it isn’t about being smart. Consulting an attorney allows the peace of mind that you are protecting yourself and your interests when preparing your separation agreement.
However you decide to handle your separation or divorce is a personal decision. But there are some clear mistakes to avoid in your separation agreement. When you are going through the process, you should be patient. Next, don’t rush into any quick decisions and allow time for the emotions to subside before making any serious decisions or signing your agreement. Last, be sure to consult a lawyer to ensure you are represented fairly in the agreement. Please leave any questions or comments below.
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