Most family law attorneys have a settlement agreement template that serves as a starting point for both settlement negotiations and the final written agreement. It is important to note, however, that any such template is merely a place to begin. Nearly all good, comprehensive settlement agreements will differ greatly from this starting point because each divorce is unique and each couple/family will have different issues to resolve and needs to address before venturing into their post-divorce life.
As an example of the need for a specific, comprehensive settlement agreement, consider the case of Real Housewives stars Phaedra Parks and Apollo Nida. Phaedra and Apollo finally reach divorce agreement, by Derrick Bryson Taylor, pagesix.com, July 12, 2017. This former couple has been locked in a divorce battle for nearly two years but have reportedly reached a settlement. The parties have two minor children together, but their custody arrangement had to be unique and specific due to the fact that Nida is serving an eight-year prison sentence for fraud. Accordingly, the parties will share joint legal custody with Parks having primary physical custody. In addition, the settlement agreement includes a clause requiring the children to call their father weekly. While the article above lists these two general terms as part of their settlement, it is likely that there are more specifics involved in their parenting plan due to Nida’s current situation.
If you are negotiating a divorce settlement with your ex (with or without attorneys), it is imperative that you think through the specific circumstances of your family in determining what should be included in the written agreement. A great rule of thumb is – if you think there is going to be an argument about it, put it in the agreement. Nida likely insisted upon the weekly calls with his children because he was concerned that he relationship with them would be stifled while he was in prison and he was not confident that Parks would facilitate the relationship without a requirement in writing. The more specific you are in the agreement the better as each person fully understanding their responsibilities and obligations will cut down on arguments and legal fees after the divorce is final.