Case Study: The Settlement Agreement

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The Challenge
A client/mother was concerned about the risk that the father, a citizen of Italy, would try to abscond with their two children to live full time in Italy after the divorce. The father was not only a citizen of Italy, but his entire family lived in Italy. Further, the father’s job status in the US was tenuous, and the client was justifiably concerned that if the father lost his job, his only real source of support would be his family in Italy.

The Solution
We conceived a settlement strategy that included the escrowing of funds from the sale of the marital home for the purpose of securing the children’s return to the US in the event that the father failed to return with them after a visit or in the event that he absconded to Italy with them. The escrowed funds were made specifically and easily available to the client for the purpose of paying the costs and expenses associated with a habeas corpus action for the return of the children, including but not limited to attorneys’ fees incurred to obtain their return. Habeas Corpus actions are very expensive as they require the drafting and filing of multiple pleadings, as well as costly service fees in foreign countries. The amount that was escrowed was intended to allow the client to pay the majority of those expenses if needed.

We completed the divorce through the execution of a carefully drafted Marital Settlement Agreement that included the necessary language to protect the rights of the client and address her concerns. She was able to sign the Marital Settlement Agreement knowing her concerns were addressed and feeling safe. Furthermore, the father was put on notice that any attempts by him to abscond with the children would be not only wrong but very costly. The Client’s response: “Thank you for shepherding me through mine! Life is good on the other side. That agreement was worth every penny. Nothing left to fight over and as you suspected, he’s being an agreeable co-parent.”

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