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The Need For Calm Reflection Before Signing Your Divorce Settlement

Whether you are finalizing an agreement as a prelude to divorcing, either through the collaborative divorce process, through mediation, or through traditional divorce litigation, your attorney and you must take the time to make sure what you think you are agreeing to is clearly stated in the settlement agreement.

For divorce professionals, the ending phase of negotiating requires the ability and the presence of mind to stay grounded and to make sure we are protecting our clients. That means making sure each person is actually agreeing to the terms that will help guide their future interactions when there are future obligations and rights, such as parenting and attendant time-sharing with the parties’ children, or where continuing financial obligations are contemplated, such as child support, health care expenses, alimony or other financial obligations.

Having an experienced and calm attorney or mediator such as me can help prevent unintentional or unforeseen consequences. A poorly or ambiguously worded agreement may cause trouble shortly after it is signed. Other times, an agreement seems to work for months or years, until problems occur when a triggering event happens, such as the selling of a house or choosing and paying for a child’s private or religious education or college.

Situations like these can lead the parties into future litigation? If the agreement they have been adhering to is unable to take into account future issues, it may become necessary to incur more attorney fees and reopen the negotiation. While not every issue that may occur in the future can often be anticipated, being as clear as possible in the wording of the settlement agreement does make it easier to deal with such future problems.

I know from experience that it is always worth taking a deep breath in the last stages of negotiation in order to go over the proposed agreement calmly and carefully. You should not be rushed into signing anything until you feel that you fully understand it and that it can guide your future dealings with your former spouse or significant other. Coming to an agreement, signing the agreement, enacting the agreement, and understanding the agreement are separate pieces, and they all have to work together to get you to the goal of actually being divorced.

I have over 41 years of experience in handling the negotiation of marital settlement agreements, and I also am trained as a mediator and as a collaborative divorce lawyer. Many of my clients hire me because they say I make them feel,comfortable in a very trying time in their lives. I can be reached at my Manalapan, NJ office, where I am Of Counsel to the firm of Drescher & Cheslow, P.A., 610 Bridge Plaza Drive. (732)972-1600.

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