Are you looking for a family law attorney to provide legal representation throughout your divorce process? The legal team at Renken Law Firm in Houston, Texas can help you. We provide legal advice throughout your divorce so you can navigate this difficult time. We work with you to find solutions for spousal support, child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, separate property, and more. Contact us today to learn more about how our team can help you reach a divorce settlement.
No. You may enter into a divorce settlement agreement before or after you separate or file for divorce. Or, you may not be able to reach an agreement until the morning of your divorce trial – right “on the courthouse steps,” as the saying goes. However, the sooner you settle your case the better, especially if the goal is to avoid unnecessary turmoil and attorney’s fees.
Do I Need an Attorney to Prepare the Divorce Agreement?
It’s highly recommended that you hire a lawyer to prepare your Divorce Agreement. Or, if your spouse’s attorney has already prepared it, you should hire an attorney to review it (on your behalf) and make sure important legal provisions are added, deleted, or corrected in order to protect your rights.
Phrases such as “sole legal custody,” “exclusive possession,” “timely indemnify and hold harmless,” and “relinquish and waive all future claims” actually have very important meanings. You’re not a lawyer, so you may miss serious problems with the proposed agreement, or may not know what specific words must be included to protect your interests. If you fail to catch something, you may end up losing important rights. The smart thing to do is to pay someone in the beginning to make sure you don’t pay even more in the end.
What If We Settle Everything Before Going to Court?
If you settle everything before taking your divorce case to court, an attorney or mediator can draw up an agreement. Once signed, the Divorce Agreement becomes a binding contract, which means both spouses are obligated to follow its terms.
Depending on your state’s laws, the agreement may be submitted to a judge that can make sure the terms are fair. It will then be incorporated into your final divorce decree and become a binding court order; if either of you violates the order later on, you could be held in contempt of a court.
If you and your spouse can’t agree, you’ll probably end up in court, where you’ll have to put on your case and ask a judge to decide all issues for you. Because this process is unpredictable, and often very expensive, reaching an agreement outside of court is the preferable way to go.
What If I Don’t Like My Spouse’s Proposed Divorce Agreement?
Don’t sign it. Remember, it’s just a proposal – a starting point in the negotiation. Even if your spouse (or your spouse’s attorney) gave you a deadline to respond, you still don’t have to do anything. You can throw the proposal in the trash if you want to. No one can force you to settle until you’re ready.
But there is such a thing as waiting too long. If you refuse to negotiate in good faith, or you won’t sign anything because you want to keep milking your spouse’s generosity for as long as possible, your spouse will become frustrated, and may pull out of the settlement negotiations altogether. If you really want to settle, you need to be willing to move forward and compromise.
As stated above, it’s wise to ask an attorney to review your spouse’s proposed Divorce Agreement. If you don’t like it, an attorney can help you understand how far apart you are, and negotiate a better deal on your behalf.
Texas Family Law Firm
Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.