On the University of Colorado’s campus sits Temporary Building No. 1, built in 1898. It is still in use. Most temporary things, like temporary agreements in divorce or other family law matters, are not meant to last 121 years. Beware, though; even a temporary agreement can have long-lasting consequences.
Temporary Agreements in Divorce
Temporary agreements can work in many areas of family law. A primary use is with divorce, which in Virginia is not an overnight escapade of paperwork and mouse clicks.
For a properly executed Virginia divorce, you need attorneys, you have petitions, you have filings. It takes time. If nothing else, the waiting period between separation and divorce is at least six months (no children) or a year (with children).
This means you, your finances, and your living arrangements are all in tumult for a while. You need protection while the proceedings are … proceeding. A temporary agreement can provide that protection, if it is:
- Crafted correctly
- Perfectly proofread for omissions, errors, or vague wording
Any temporary agreement to provide short-term protections in a divorce must be agreed to by both you and your eventual ex-wife. Topics for this type of protection include all the aspects that could be in an eventual property settlement agreement or divorce decree:
- Child support payments
- Spousal support arrangements
- Parenting time schedules
- Child custody
Before you or your soon-to-be ex-wife try to tackle a temporary agreement on your own, recognize that these legal instruments can be complex. They must be crafted from a “rule out” perspective: does every line rule out any possibility of misinterpretation, permanency, or unintended consequences?
Temporary Agreements are Strong if Done Right
The power of a temporary agreement is that it provides protection in vital areas of your everyday life, but only while the divorce is unfolding. What one attorney might try to pitch to you as its weakness, its very transient nature, is actually its greatest strength.
Something crafted in a temporary agreement can prevent drastic changes to your normal routine:
- It can specify that the children will remain in Virginia throughout the divorce proceedings
- It can help you arrange and budget your finances to accommodate child support or spousal support payments
- It can put an end date on arrangements that you and your nearly ex-spouse thought might work, like parenting time schedules or even child custody, but that prove unworkable
Without a temporary agreement, you may have no inkling of what direction your life will take in the final decree. You may be blindsided by the amounts assigned for child support or spousal support. You may be bewildered by an upside-down custody determination, thinking all along that you would get primary custody.
For all its stopgap power, a temporary agreement must be clearly spelled out as temporary. No languge should be left in the agreement that offers the slightest hint at permanency. If the agreement does not contain wording that gives an expiration date (possibly with every clause), a judge will be inclined to assume the agreement (or its constituent parts) is permanent.
An Actual Agreement
Many zealous men work only with their own attorney to craft a temporary agreement, convinced the main task is to get all the “goodies” into it the men want. This is wrong-headed, because it must be an agreement.
Your partner, wife, or mother of your children must agree to its terms. The attorney to your partner, wife, or child’s mother must agree to its terms.
Incorporate goals for both of you. Negotiate the temporary agreement in good faith. If nothing else, it is a dress rehearsal for the final property settlement agreement or other legal instrument.
The Benefits of a Temporary Agreement
Temporary agreements may sound like a lot of trouble for unclear benefits. Yet they can work wonders to ease the tensions and anxiety any family law matter brings. The agreement can help bridge the weeks or months between deciding on a legal action and having it finalized. The agreement can cool tempers, ensure both sides are heard, and provide tangible financial help for children.
What are the Alternatives?
The alternative in Virginia to a temporary agreement reached between two willing, cooperating parties is a pendente lite hearing. We have spoken of this type of hearing before. It is an excellent tool for straightening out misunderstandings and enriching both attorneys. A hearing is, necessarily, costlier to you and your wife or partner than negotiating a temporary agreement.
The Firm For Men is here to help you, a Virginia man, with all aspects of family law. Contact us today or telephone our office at 757-383-9184. When you reach out to us, we can help you reach a good agreement that protects your rights, preserves your financial security, and helps you move on with your life.