Divorce or separation negotiations can be lengthy and complicated with each side trying to get the most favorable terms. Once everyone agrees to the terms in principle, the separation or divorce settlement agreement must be drafted. Unfortunately, this can introduce more disputes over the written terms and whether they accurately reflect the wishes of the parties. Typically, the two attorneys hash out the language, but what happens if you disagree with your own attorney about how the agreement is drafted? Should you get a second opinion on the divorce settlement agreement before you sign it?
Have You Explained Your Problems with the Divorce Settlement Agreement?
It is essential to regularly communicate with your attorney about your needs and priorities regarding your divorce. Your attorney can and should advise you about your rights and obligations, the likelihood of success in litigation and recommended steps you should take in your case. However, you are entitled to decide whether to settle and on what terms. You shouldn’t feel intimidated into accepting what your attorney wants. If you discussed your concerns with your attorney but have not gotten a satisfactory response and feel pressured to give in, you may want to get a second opinion from another attorney.
Is the Divorce Settlement Agreement Well-Drafted?
A well-written agreement is clear, precise and succinct. A vague or wordy document may lead to future litigation so it’s important for the attorney drafting the agreement to get it right. If you feel the agreement is confusing or inaccurate or you don’t understand the terms, you should talk to your attorney about your concerns. A good lawyer will take the time to explain the document to you and why it may be worded in a particular way.
If your lawyer refuses to respond to you, is dismissive or you are otherwise unsatisfied with the response, you may want to get a second opinion from another lawyer.
How Do You Get a Second Opinion?
You have the right to get another opinion. If you go down this path, you should interview other attorneys to find someone appropriate who can review your agreement before you sign it. It’s best if your existing attorney and the one giving the second opinion don’t interact. You should act as a go-between. Based on comments from the second opinion, you can then ask your existing attorney to make changes consistent with the spirit of the agreement but with the revisions you want and that the second opinion attorney deemed advisable.
Importantly, if you have gone through negotiating a settlement and are near the end of your divorce or separation, it doesn’t make sense to replace your existing attorney with a new one. Instead, it may be best to get another attorney to solely advise you regarding whether your agreement is appropriate in light of your concerns.
If you have doubts about your attorney or simply want to feel confident that you are signing an agreement that has what you want, contact us for a consultation.