Agreements allow parties to decide for themselves how to resolve their issues. An agreement can cover issues such as custody, access, support, and division of family property. Agreements may also include other terms. For example, an agreement may state that neither party will have any claim on the other’s estate if one dies without a will.
Before entering into an agreement it is important that both parties understand what they are agreeing to and the alternatives that are open to them. The information on this site can help parties understand the issues but each party should consult their own lawyer before signing any agreement. A lawyer can ensure that the agreement says what the parties want it to say and that the agreement will be enforceable. A lawyer will also advise the parties of their legal rights. If the agreement deals with family property each party must have independent legal advice for the agreement to be enforceable. See Getting Legal Help for information on finding a lawyer.
The terms that can be included in an agreement are as varied as the parties that make the agreement. There is however some basic information that should be included in all agreements as well as some basic information required for different types of agreements.
Options for coming to an agreement range from the parties working together without any assistance, to mediation, collaborative law and negotiation through a lawyer. What will work best depends on your situation. Parties may want to consider things like the amount of conflict and the willingness of each party to cooperate in coming to an agreement, as well as the kind of assistance the parties can afford and how quickly they want to resolve the issues.
Agreements are not just for parties who can agree on every issue. Making an agreement that deals with some of the issues can simplify a case that ends up before the courts. And even if the parties can’t initially reach an agreement, an agreement can be reached any time before the court decides the matters.