I signed this Separation Agreement and I want to change it

by Marjorie G. DiLima, Esq.

Many times I have met with clients who have brought in a signed Separation Agreement that was written by themselves or their soon to be ex spouse or his or her attorney.  Usually the clients wanted to “get it over with” and move on with their lives, and so were eager to settle matters. However, problems arise.

 Frequent pitfalls are:

  • They don’t understand certain portions of the Agreement
  • They no longer agree to terms in the Agreement
  • They want provisions added to the Agreement
  • They believe the Agreement is not “fair”
  • The Agreement doesn’t make sense.

This situation is very difficult and at times impossible to remedy.  Once the Agreement, also known as a contract, is signed, it is valid and enforceable.  The portions of the Agreement that may be modified by the Court are custody and child support, as those issues are always modifiable by the Court.  Other aspects of the Agreement may not be modified by the Court, in particular property issues and alimony – it depends how the provisions are written in the Agreement.   If the Agreement is silent on an issue, say alimony, or division of retirement asset, then there is a possibility of addressing those issues in negotiations or in Court, depending upon other language contained in the Agreement.

The best advice is to have an attorney carefully review any Agreement BEFORE you sign and DON’T sign anything you don’t understand.  An attorney’s time to review an Agreement and meet with you should take about 2 hours of time, costing their hourly rate.  It is well worth the money to have a draft Agreement reviewed before signing, rather than facing the pitfalls listed above which can cost you drastically in the future – financially and emotionally.

Tags: Separation, Agreements

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