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  • Self written separation agreement

    Hello
    I know every one will suggest otherwise. I will have to go this rought for a few reasons.
    Can my wife and I write up a separation agreement sign it have witnesses sign it and not get it notarized as an uncontested divorce.
    Will this be acceptable in a year by a judge to stamp if we have no intention of changing it?

  • #2
    In short, DON'T !

    Unless you do it "right"; there's a good chance it won't be worth the paper its written on should one party change their mind later.

    BUT, it sounds like you are in agreement. So, just have your lawyer draw it up, have your ex get HER lawyer to review it (ie. independent legal advise) and should be good to go.

    If you both agree, it shouldn't cost much to get it done properly. Trust me, better to take a small financial hit now to get it done right than suffer BIG potential financial hit later if it turns out the agreement doesn't stand up in court.

    BIggest potential problem is if one lawyer "stirs the pot" to get the other party to renege on the agreement. Try to keep things amicable and realize the lawyers have incentive to stir the pot to increase fees. Mind you, if there's no money there, they may not be as keen to create dissent.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by shellshocked22 View Post
      In short, DON'T ! Unless you do it "right"; there's a good chance it won't be worth the paper its written on should one party change their mind later.
      Hmm.. Not sure I'd say "don't" so strongly. If there are no kids, and couple had nothing when they married, and both worked throughout the marriage, and fairly spilit all assets/liabilities at the end.. then why wouldn't it hold up in court if tested. The mere absence of ILA alone is not enough to overturn the agreement.

      Howver.. you also make the valid point that if the parties can agree so easily, then they should also be able to get the matter reviewed for 1 or 2 hours by a lawyer, even if just to improve the wording.

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      • #4
        Yes you can. I went through this myself. Had no issues.

        Whether it's a good/bad/advisable thing to do in YOUR situation and circumstances, is another matter. If you want to take this route, make sure you do your homework and read up carefully on all applicable law, the process etc., for starters, to know what you are getting into and be aware of the potential risks.

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        • #5
          I still respectfully strongly support my advice to have it done properly by a lawyer.

          In theory, "if they do it right" lawyers can be avoided. BUT, we all know it's scary how some small detail missed COULD invalidate it.

          I realize every dollar counts but if they agree, I still think its worth a few hundrend (even a $1,000) to get it done right. The little amount saved compared to the POTENTIAL financial hit if it turns out to be wrong down the road doesn't support the cost/savings analysis in my opinion.

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          • #6
            Do it properly. Not worth the risk otherwise. Moreso when there are significant assets to fight over or when there are children involved, BUT it CAN come back to bite you in the butt down the road regardless.

            I have a coworker who separated from his now ex wife, they had a status quo in place, did the agreement themselves, etc....now 3 years later, his mortgage comes up for renewal...guess what...she refused to sign the paperwork to renew it or to turn it over to him unless he paid off her student loans for her.

            His bank wouldn't allow him extra time to sort it out legally, and he didn't have the time or funds for a protracted legal battle, so he caved in. So instead of spending a few hundred bucks to do it properly 3 years ago...it cost him close to 20 grand.

            Stupid? You bet. Can he recoup his losses? Highly unlikely. Can't get blood from a stone after all. But unless you can guarantee yourself you have covered ALL the "whatifs" that may crop up down the road, it's FAR better to do it properly. And if you CAN do that, how about tossing a guy the winning lotto numbers?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by NBDad View Post
              Do it properly. Not worth the risk otherwise. Moreso when there are significant assets to fight over or when there are children involved, BUT it CAN come back to bite you in the butt down the road regardless.

              I have a coworker who separated from his now ex wife, they had a status quo in place, did the agreement themselves, etc....now 3 years later, his mortgage comes up for renewal...guess what...she refused to sign the paperwork to renew it or to turn it over to him unless he paid off her student loans for her.

              His bank wouldn't allow him extra time to sort it out legally, and he didn't have the time or funds for a protracted legal battle, so he caved in. So instead of spending a few hundred bucks to do it properly 3 years ago...it cost him close to 20 grand.

              Stupid? You bet. Can he recoup his losses? Highly unlikely. Can't get blood from a stone after all. But unless you can guarantee yourself you have covered ALL the "whatifs" that may crop up down the road, it's FAR better to do it properly. And if you CAN do that, how about tossing a guy the winning lotto numbers?
              One point to draw from here is that it is very important to have an agreement that does not rely on trust. Separate everything completely up front, don't leave a mortgage, or anything else, tied together, even if it is all spelled out in an agreement.

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              • #8
                Short marriage and I have to do it now, no lawyers. If there was it would not help me.

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                • #9
                  Yes...you can. My ex and I did it with a child involved. My cliffnotes version:

                  In the beginning we decided to use a mediator as things were heated and very "new" to both of us. We were advised by our mediator to keep the agreement short (no more than 10 pages), as a long agreement was viewed by the courts as a conflict situation. However, we threw out him...and his advice...after it became apparent that we actually worked better by ourselves...in public places.

                  Together we wrote our separation agreement. Drafted, re-drafted, negotiated...etc.

                  We then took our "almost 100% complete" agreement to each of our lawyers for "independent legal advice" and tweeked it a couple more times.

                  He used his lawyer way more than mine...but my final legal bill ended up being right around $700.00.

                  This took about 5 months from start to finish.

                  In the end I think the "only" things we missed (as did our lawyers) were:
                  1. A clause indicating what would happen regarding where our son goes to school/daycare should one parent from move to another area of the city to the other. (Don't get me started...lol)
                  2. How investment income would be handled in the case of cashing them in to purchase a home, or live.

                  Our separation agreement is closing in on 20 pages long.

                  At the year mark we started the divorce proceedings ourselves (using a divorce kit from the local court house). I had done the bulk of the research, typing, etc., for the separation agreement so my ex agreed to do the divorce paperwork. I paid $100 - 40% of what the clerk told us it would cost. 5 months later (a bit of a delay due to the ex doing the paperwork) and my divorce certificate arrived in the mail. (Marked the day on the calendar and did a little happy dance...lol).

                  So yes...it can be done...keeping lawyers involvement to a minimum.

                  I wwas very good at keeping my lawyer "reigned" in to "advice" only...my ex ended up spending close to $3,000.00 for his lawyer as he involved him every step of the way. Not one letter went "back and forth" between lawyers.

                  Comment

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