Honestly, it’s tempting not to peer into a crystal ball when you’re negotiating a divorce agreement. Most people find the divorce process draining and even distressing. It’s not fun. It’s hard. You want it over with. Getting an agreement done as soon as possible can mean leaving future questions to our future selves to resolve.
After all, no one really knows what’s going to happen in the future. It’s more than just the desire to get this agreement finished. There are real reasons to leave future issues to the future.
You might spend time negotiating about who will pay for college, for example, only to find that your kids aren’t interested in college.
With so much at stake right now, does it even make sense to consider the future in the negotiations?
Something is bound to come up, right? Why plan?
Nobody said it would be easy, but you may want to consider the future to some extent as you negotiate. This is because the things that are bound to come up are somewhat predictable.
The issues you must decide on now include:
- Where the kids are going to live and how much parenting time each parent will get
- How much child support will one parent have to pay and who has to pay it
- Whether there will be a spousal support (“alimony”) obligation, for how much, and for how long
- How to divide your shared property and debts
There are a lot of details to be sorted, but those are the main issues. If you and your ex can come to an agreement on those issues, you can sign your agreement and proceed with obtaining a divorce.
However, a good separation agreement will serve you better if it can prevent or resolve disputes in the future. You don’t want to have to go back to court every few years to handle issues you could have prevented.
Some issues that are likely to come up in the future include:
- What if a child refuses to follow the parenting plan?
- What if a parent refuses to follow it?
- What happens if one parent has to move away?
- What should happen when one parent gets a new romantic partner?
- Who is responsible if a child needs therapy?
- How to make decisions about college – where, how much, and who pays
- What happens if one parent becomes disabled?
- What happens if one parent dies?
One key to a good divorce agreement is to include an alternative dispute resolution mechanism such as mediation or arbitration. That way, any issues you couldn’t think of don’t necessarily have to send you back to court.
Be sure to work with an attorney who will go the extra mile for your family.