Some divorcing couples are able to work out an agreement without outside help. I often refer to agreements like this as a “kitchen table agreement”. This is an agreement spouses work out by sitting down together and talking through each of the issues. I call it the “kitchen table agreement” because that is where it is most often done. The kitchen table is a safe place to talk and it allows for plenty of room to spread out the bills and documents you need to handle all of the details.
“Kitchen table agreements” are great because they are a proof that divorcing spouses do not have to beat each other up while going through a divorce. They are proof that even if a husband and wife cannot stay married they are still able to act like grown ups and do what is best for each other and their children.
However, there are some potential problems with these types of agreements. The biggest problems are with these do-it-yourself agreements are:
- Separation and divorce are extremely emotional
- These agreements are typically worked out in a hurry before or just after the spouses separate
- Neither of the spouses are divorce lawyers (note I said divorce lawyers, not just lawyers).
These problems can result in issues not being addressed in the agreement or in solutions being agreed to that are not workable in the future. For example, a couple may forget to decide how they are going to handle holiday and summer visitation with the children. Or, a couple may agree to financial arrangements that after a closer look show one or both spouses will not have enough money to cover future expenses.
It is worth having your “kitchen table agreement” reviewed before you take it to court and ask a Family Court Judge to review it.
Who should review it? The short answer is: a lawyer. But, when they review it they can act either as a lawyer or as a mediator.
When they act as a lawyer, they review the agreement with one spouse for the purpose of making sure that the agreement benefits that spouse (and that spouse alone).
When they act as a mediator, they review the agreement with both spouses. As a mediator, their role is to make sure all the issues and problems arising from breakdown of the marriage are addressed, the agreed upon solutions are workable and everyone understands the agreement.
Those are two different roles with two different responsibilities for the lawyer. I can do either role. I prefer to work on a couples’ agreement as the mediator, but I can also work with one spouse to review that agreement to make sure they are protected.
If you would like me to work with you (and you alone) to review your agreement, call my office at (864) 582-0270 or use the form on the “Get Started Today” page to request a time for us to talk.
If you are interested in me working with you and your spouse as a mediator to review and fine tune your agreement, go to the “Mediation” page and learn more about that process. Then call my office at (864) 582-0270 or use the form on the “Get Started Today” page to request a time for us to talk.