You should have a lawyer – even if you agree on everything. You want to make sure that your divorce is done properly and completely so you don’t have any surprises or unexpected issues come up at a later date if something was forgotten or left undone. Often, I am asked, can we use the same lawyer – and the answer to that question is, No. Even though you agree on everything, it is still an adversarial situation and one lawyer cannot advise both of you about the terms and consequences of the agreement. Each party should have their own attorney to provide independent advice about the terms of your agreement.
It is great if you and your spouse are able to agree on the terms of your divorce, but when you review your agreement with your lawyer, your lawyer will make sure that you have not forgotten anything that should be addressed in your agreement.
When spouses reach a divorce agreement without the guidance of divorce attorneys, these are the things I have seen overlooked.
Think You Agree on Everything in Your Divorce? Don’t Overlook These Issues
Agreements Regarding the Marital Home:
If you and your spouse agree that you will sell your marital home and each of you will receive 50% of the profits – you must not forget to address the following:
- Who will pay the mortgage, taxes, and insurance while the house is on the market?
- Who will live in the house while it is on the market?
- What if the marital home does not sell and the price needs to be adjusted?
- What if there is a major repair necessary while the house is on the market?
Addressing Life Insurance:
If you are receiving child support or maintenance you want to include a provision that your spouse holds life insurance with you as the beneficiary in the event they pass away and can no longer pay the amounts. If you agree that the spouse should maintain life insurance – you must not forget to address the following:
- How much is the death benefit?
- Can the owner of the insurance policy borrow against the death benefit?
- Are you the only beneficiary or one of the beneficiaries of the insurance policy?
- Does the death benefit change over time due to the change in the obligation over time?
- Who is the owner of the insurance policy?
- How can you be assured that the premiums are paid?
Agree to Share Retirement Accounts:
If you have agreed to share equally the retirement accounts it is important to know what type of accounts they are and understand that all retirement accounts are not created equal. Some accounts cannot be treated as equal and are more like comparing apples to oranges than apples to apples – you must not forget to address the following:
- What type of retirement account is it?
- Is it a defined benefit plan (amount received is based on years of service and income earned)?
- Is it a defined contribution plan (amount received is based on the amount you put in)?
- Who is going to draft the legal documents necessary to divide the retirement accounts?
Agreements Regarding Division of Debts:
If you have agreed that you will each pay your own debts – you must not forget to address the following:
- What if you have a debt that is joint – who is going to pay for that?
- What if your spouse files for Bankruptcy after the Divorce and the Creditor comes after you.
- What if there are debts that you don’t know about and are not disclosed.
- What if they agree to pay your debt but then fail to pay it.
The Marital Settlement Agreement
In addition to coming to an agreement on the terms of your divorce, the legal documents necessary to obtain a divorce must be properly drafted. Your lawyer will make sure that your marital settlement agreement is drafted in the appropriate form so that you end up in the situation that you intended. In addition to making sure you have all of the terms identified and you understand the consequences of your agreement, you have to get your case before the Judge. This can be tricky and is best handled by a divorce lawyer to make sure you end up in the correct court with the correct paperwork.
Agreeing on Everything in Your Divorce Has Its Benefit
The good news with having an agreement when hiring a divorce lawyer is that the costs are kept in check. The lawyer you hire will review your agreement and make sure you understand that terms and certainly discuss with you anything that may be missing or overlooked or not completely thought through. In addition, a lawyer will let you know specifically the potential consequences of your agreement. The lawyer will make sure the agreement is drafted and presented to the court and finalized. This will provide the reassurance you need to move forward after the divorce and not have to hire a lawyer after the divorce in the event something comes up that is unexpected or could have been avoided.
When you need an experienced divorce lawyer in Chicago, you can count on Anderson and Boback Family Law Attorneys. For more than 20 years, our divorce attorneys have been representing Chicago clients with a wide range of family law and divorce issues, including helping clients that come agree on everything and just need guidance to finalize their divorce. Contact us today for a confidential consultation.