Your Divorce Financial Settlement Agreement
In your lifetime — let alone you Divorce — few documents will be as influential and far-reaching as your Divorce Financial Settlement Agreement. Indeed, whether you’re the spouse who will be supporting more or receiving more, it’s in your best interest — and that of your children — to ensure that this agreement is comprehensive, equitable, accurate, robust enough to stand up in court, and designed to work for the long-term; not just today.
What is a Divorce Financial Settlement Agreement?
As the name suggests, this is an agreement between you and your spouse that covers the comprehensive details of both asset and debt allocation. It includes everything from cash, to properties, to businesses, to retirement savings, and more.
Is a Divorce Financial Settlement Agreement Final?
Yes and no. Firstly, a court must approve and accept the agreement before it comes into effect. This can come as a surprise to some divorcing couples, who assume that as long as they agree, the courts will go along. Furthermore, it’s possible that couples will agree on some asset/debt details, but unable to come to agreement on other issues. In such cases, the court can be asked to litigate based on the evidence and facts that it has been presented with by both parties.
Ultimately, however, a Divorce financial settlement is considered final once it has been approved by the courts. In some cases, however, if a spouse discovers that their ex-spouse withheld information (e.g. an overseas business, other assets, etc.), then an application can be made to review and potentially adjust the agreement based on the new information presented to the court. However, this application is costly, time consuming, and can be risky since there is no guarantee that the courts will agree with the applicant, and change the agreement.
Should I Seek Expert Help with my Divorce Financial Settlement Agreement?
Again, there is a “yes and no” answer. If your Divorce is very simple, with no contested complex assets (e.g. a business), a straightforward and mutually-agreed upon allocation of assets, then you may be able to establish an agreement without any additional expertise.
However, in most cases — such as where there are retirement assets, a business involved, the potential for one spouse to hide or misrepresent the value of assets, or complex debt instruments (e.g. a mortgage) — expert help is necessary; especially since a Divorce Financial Settlement Agreement is one of the most important and influential documents in your life. In other words, you don’t want to “guess” or “take chances” with this, because if you lose, the costs can be profound and lasting.
To assess your situation, call (or have your family lawyer) the Forensic Accounting Offices of Cathleen Collinsworth. Cathleen is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®), and a Master Analyst in Financial Forensics (MAFF®) specializing in Litigation who practices forensic accounting.