separation-agreements Navigating family law agreements can be a daunting task. These legal documents are not just formalities but crucial in protecting your rights, assets, and, most importantly, family relationships. This is where the assistance of a family law attorney becomes indispensable.

Agreements Lu Aloupas Can Create

Hampton Roads Lu Aloupas can prepare a variety of agreements depending on your specific needs and circumstances. Some of the common types of agreements she might draft include:

Prenuptial agreements. These are contracts entered into before marriage, outlining how assets and debts will be divided in the event of a divorce or death. They can also address issues like spousal support.

Postnuptial agreements. Similar to prenuptial agreements, but these are created and signed after the marriage has taken place.

Separation agreements. When a couple decides to live apart, a separation agreement outlines the terms of this separation, including financial arrangements, custody of children, and division of assets.

Divorce settlement agreements. In the event of a divorce, this agreement details the terms of the divorce, including division of property, child custody and visitation rights, child support, and spousal support.

Child custody agreements. These agreements outline the arrangements for the custody and care of children, including living arrangements, visitation schedules, and decision-making responsibilities.

Child support agreements. These define the financial responsibilities of each parent in contributing to the children's living expenses, education, healthcare, and other needs.

Spousal support agreements. In cases of divorce or separation, spousal support agreements detail the financial support that one spouse will provide to the other.

Property settlement agreements. These are used to divide property and assets between spouses in the event of a divorce or separation.

Co-parenting agreements. For unmarried or separated parents, these agreements set out the terms for raising and supporting their children, including custody arrangements and financial responsibilities.

Why You Need an Attorney to Prepare Your Agreement

Online forms may seem like an affordable and convenient option, but this approach often results in numerous unintended consequences for parties that impact their lives long after the ink is dry and the notary seal is applied.

The Form Does Not Address Your Specific Situation

A one-size-fits-all approach does not work in family law. No two parties are alike, and every situation is different. For example, some websites offer “temporary” and “permanent” separation agreements. Unfortunately, the sites do not offer the legal advice you need to help you decide between the two or explain the consequences if you (or your spouse) later determine that you have the wrong type of agreement.

Additionally, the agreement you draft online may not include everything you need it to include because you have not thought of everything just yet. An agreement is almost never ready for signatures after the first draft. This is one of many reasons why an online form cannot replace a consultation with an experienced family law practitioner. Meeting with an attorney allows you the opportunity to ask questions about the specifics of your separation, something you cannot do with an online form.

Online Agreements Offer No Protection From the Dominant Spouse/Partner

Inexpensive online forms are often used by the spouse who wants a quick out, wants an unfair share of marital property, or wants the other party to waive their rights to something they are entitled to, such as a share of the spouse’s retirement pay, or spousal support. In these cases, one spouse attempts to exercise excessive control over the other to enter into an agreement that favors the dominant spouse/partner and leaves the other with less than they would receive in even the most basic divorce action.

The dominant spouse/partner often exaggerates the savings the parties will realize by going the ‘cheap and quick’ route instead of each party hiring their own attorney. In the long run, however, the spouse who falls for this approach often ends up in a worse financial position, losing far more than the attorney’s retainer.

State and Local Laws Are Not Addressed

Every state has statutes and case law precedents that govern prenuptial agreements, divorce, and related issues, such as child custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support, and the division of assets and debts. Additionally, every court has its own specific practices.

For example, an award of spousal support is governed by statute in Virginia, and there are numerous factors a court must consider when determining who is to receive support, how much support they are to receive, and for how long. But unlike the statute that governs child support, the spousal support statute does not include numeric guidelines to determine the award. Instead, many Virginia courts consult various formulas for determining temporary support while the divorce is pending and/or permanent spousal support. Online forms do not consider those local practices and preferences, which may result in your agreeing to something vastly different than what a court would award.

A consultation with an experienced divorce attorney can eliminate these problems. Your divorce attorney will explain the law and what you are entitled to during the consultation and be able to address your specific concerns.

Online Forms Do Not Include Contingencies or Deadlines

This is especially important for the tax consequences of spousal support, capital gains, and small business ownership. Those online forms cannot account for all the details that are critical to a sound financial future for both parties. Parties with significant assets are especially cautioned against using online forms.

Enforcing Existing Agreements

Enforcing existing agreements in family law involves several steps that depend on the nature of the agreement and the specific issues at hand. Here is how Lu Aloupas might proceed to enforce existing family law agreements:

Review of the agreement. The attorney will first review the agreement to understand its terms and conditions, ensuring it is legally binding and enforceable.

Negotiation and mediation. Before taking legal action, the attorney may attempt to resolve the issue through negotiation or mediation with the other party. This is often a quicker and less adversarial approach.

Filing a Motion for Enforcement. If an informal resolution is not successful, the attorney can file a motion for enforcement in the family court that originally issued the order or where the order was registered. This motion asks the court to enforce the terms of the agreement.

Court hearing and presentation of evidence. The attorney will represent the client in a court hearing, presenting evidence that the other party has violated the terms of the agreement. This might include financial records, communication records, or testimony.

Seeking contempt orders. If the court finds that a party has willfully disobeyed the agreement, it may hold that party in contempt of court. Contempt orders can include penalties like fines, attorney's fees, or even jail time in extreme cases.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

You are never just a number at Aloupas Law. You can count on us to go above and beyond to ensure that you have the resources you need to move forward with your life. 

Please contact us to learn more about our legal services. We offer one-hour consultations in person as well as by phone or Zoom, during which we will hear your story, answer your questions, and give you options on how to proceed, given the facts of your case.