When it comes to divorce agreements, the general consensus seems to be that you can't ever be specific enough. Specific terms are certainly important when it comes to custody and support issues, especially ones that account for upcoming events and changes that are likely to occur throughout your lives. Spouses can plan ahead with pre-determined resolutions for a variety of issues such as how to split college costs, and the resulting changes in alimony and/or child support. Disagreements over such issues in the future are likely to result in costly litigation for both sides, and perhaps damage one or both parent's relationship with the children.
Still, there is something to be said about being too specific with your pre-determined resolutions. Take alimony, for example, which can be a tense subject for negotiation. Receiving spouses want a reasonable amount that will ensure a decent quality of life, while paying spouses want to avoid years of monthly payments that eat up a good chunk of each paycheck. Many of these cases involve the paying spouse throwing out a very good number, on the condition that the amount cannot be increased under any circumstance. A receiving spouse who want to end things quickly, or fears that the other party will change their mind, will probably agree to this seemingly reasonable condition.
What happens, however, when that receiving spouse loses his or her job due to a downturn in the economy? The paying spouse, on the other hand, owns his own business which has ironically become even more lucrative thanks to the recession. Although the receiving spouse can appeal a change of circumstances in court, such litigation is expensive and time-consuming with no guarantee of favorable results.
Even worse are pre-detemrined resolutions that hurt your ability to be there for your kids. A common example involves parents who make custody arrangements for the school year, which seems quite sensible. What may not be so sensible is to pre-determine those arrangements when the child is only an infant. There is a good chance that once the child is of school age, he may wish to spend more time with the non-custodial parent. If the custodial parent is unwilling to budge on the issue, the non-custodial parent will either have to proceed with litigation, or disappoint the child by telling him that this is just how it has to be.
Keep in mind that these are theoretical examples that may or may not apply to your specific situation. What it does point out is the need to consider all the possible ramifications of any pre-determiend resolution before signing off. It's also important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who can help you see beyond the present, and give you guidance based on situations that they have come across with previous clients. For more information on how to plan ahead in your divorce agreement, as well as any other divorce-related issues, please speak with the attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.