October 6, 2020
Getting a divorce can be a long and difficult process. Emotions are high as you end what you thought would last forever.
One of the most contested yet important parts of a divorce is writing up the divorce settlement agreement. This process involves sitting down with your ex-spouse and determining how you both will split your assets.
Reaching an agreement can be stressful, especially if the other party is uncooperative or you go in without a plan.
You may not fully understand what should be included in the agreement.
While there are plenty of assets that need to be split between a divorced couple, there are some common items that every agreement should include.
This post will help to dispel any general questions or concerns you might have about creating a divorce settlement agreement.
How A Divorce Attorney Can Help You
A lawyer argues for your best interests. These agreements can be made before or after you officially separate, but it’s recommended that you complete the agreements.
This helps the divorce process go smoothly, helping you avoid any extra lawyer fees or complications in court.
It’s recommended that you hire a family law attorney to advise you during the agreement proceedings. Your attorney will fight for your rights and help both you and your spouse reach a compromise on certain points.
How Does a Divorce Settlement Work?
When you and your spouse decide to separate, you both need to determine who gets what assets and, if with children, how you both plan to support them.
The point of a divorce settlement agreement is to put these plans in writing to make them legally binding.
Every marriage is different, meaning your separation isn’t going to look like anyone else’s. While there are common elements of each divorce settlement, like splitting assets and determining child support, you should consider what you both want, specifically.
Begin By Gathering Necessary Documentation
You should gather as much documentation or information as it relates to salaries over the past several years, values of investments, amounts of debt, and values of real estate, and tax returns. You do not have to have every document before meeting with an attorney, but it is helpful to begin the drafting of a divorce agreement if you have this information.
Be as Detailed as Possible in Your Agreement
When starting your divorce agreement, it’s important to include as much relevant information as possible.
This information helps the court to understand the conditions of your marriage and separation.
While you should consult with an attorney to make sure you don’t leave anything out, here are some standard pieces of information to include:
- Date of your marriage
- Date of your separation
- Why you’re getting divorced
- If you have any, the names and ages of your children
- Your current living arrangements and addresses
Find and Divide Your Assets
This is when tensions begin to rise in a divorce proceeding. It’s important to fairly divide the assets between each spouse. These assets include any properties or debts shared by the spouses.
This can include cars or houses, along with their respective loans and payments. This is where having an attorney comes in handy.
- Protect your best interests during these proceedings
- Help you both figure out all of your assets
- Help you accurately divide them.
As you both figure out how to split your shared assets, it’s important to compromise on certain items and stay steadfast on others.
Deciding Child Custody
Child custody is probably the most contested agreement in any divorce.
Deciding child custody and creating a parenting plan are emotionally charged discussions between two spouses. You both love your children and want what’s best for them.
Be sure to figure out the plan that’s best for them, not yourselves.
- One parent is the physical custodian and decision maker, while the other is given reasonable access to the child for visitation
Joint Legal Custody:
- Both parents have equal say for important decisions, one parent has physical custody and the other parent has visitation.
- Both parents share equally say for important decisions, and both parents have significant time with the child/children.
- Does not have to be 50/50, it can be that one parent has weekends during school and equal time during the summer. The custodial time can vary depending on the parent’s schedules and the best interest of the children.
- If both parents can work reasonably well together, this is often times the best for the children.
- Is fairly rare
- It involves one parent being responsible for one child, while the other is responsible for another child.
- This plan is usually only used in special circumstances, like if there are many children or if the child is old enough to make their own decisions.
Agreeing on Child and Spousal Support in Virginia
When determining how much should be paid towards child support, the amount is based on what state you’re in.
Virginia has a calculator to determine how much child support one may have to pay depending on incomes, health insurance and daycare costs.
Spousal support is much more difficult to determine. This is often times the most difficult issue to negotiate and settle in a divorce agreement.
While you cannot keep a child from receiving support, you can waive your spousal support, also known as alimony.
Double Check Everything In The Settlement
Before you turn in your divorce settlement, make sure you double check everything in the document.
Make sure all of your spelling and grammar is correct and that both you and your spouse agree on the terms.
This is one of the most important steps of the divorce process. Once the agreement is legally binding, it is what the legal system will refer to when issues with your separation are brought forward.
Divorce Agreement Attorney
Deciding your divorce settlement agreement can be stressful and time-consuming. That’s why you need an attorney you can trust to fight for your best interests.
The divorce attorneys at Cravens and Noll have years of experience in handling all parts of a separation case.
Contact us to schedule a consultation so we can help you during this difficult moment in your life.