Top Five Reasons Why It's A Really Bad Idea To Draft Your Own, Or Internet Purchased, Separation Agreement

  1. It’s a contract- Under Virginia, law separation agreements are treated the same as contracts. That means once you sign this contract it is binding and its terms are enforceable and generally, with very few exceptions, not modifiable.
  2. Words have meaning- Many times clients come to us with signed separation agreements that they found on the internet with language that sounds good. The problem is that these words have meaning. Your signing of an agreement that may be too inclusive or worse not inclusive enough could have disastrous effects.
  3. Penny wise and pound foolish. Separation agreements typically deal with issues such as spousal support, child custody, child support, and equitable distribution of debt and assets. Depending upon the length of the marriage, the age of the children and the accrued equity you may be talking about thousands of dollars per month. This amount over time could equal tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars that you may be unwittingly waiving or agreeing to pay. Only an attorney versed in family law can give you proper insight into what a Court is likely to do and ultimately what a fair settlement may be. At a minimum pay an attorney to review your agreement.
  4. My Husband/ wife said we would work out the rest – Verbal agreements, text messages and emails between the parties are not agreements and are unenforceable. The four corners of the Separation agreement that you sign will ultimately control the outcome of your divorce and the other discussions will not be considered.
  5. We did not agree on everything – Separation agreements that only deal with part of the issues more than likely will be found to deal with all the issues and items that you may have unwittingly left out will be waived.