Many people find themselves in a situation where, after years of living together their relationship falls apart. Depending on circumstances, they may be faced with many different issues, including divorce, parenting of children, child and spousal support claims, equalization of property, etc.
These issues may be resolved either amicably – by way of separation agreement – or through the court process.
In either case, you must know what you are entitled to and what your potential exposure is. An experienced family law practitioner should accompany you through the necessary steps required to achieve the fair resolution of your matrimonial problems, including ascertaining what is in the best interests of your children, determining financial situation of both parties and finding solutions to contentious issues.
It is important to remember that amicable resolution is much more cost effective and less stressful while acrimonious litigation is expensive and often harmful not only to spouses but also their children.
Nonetheless, before agreeing to something, you must know what you are entitled to and what you forego by accepting any given settlement. Sometimes, you may be better off resorting to litigation rather than accepting unfair terms imposed by the other party.
If all other matrimonial issues can be settled amicably, then the divorce can be obtained on uncontested basis. If, however, the spouses cannot come to such resolution, they have to resort to litigation and let the court determine their rights and obligations upon breakdown of their family relationship.
While you do not have to be represented by a lawyer in any proceeding, including the matrimonial one, it is strongly recommended to have an experienced lawyer on your side. On the one hand, the matrimonial litigation is governed by certain procedural rules and failure to follow them can result in serious negative consequences. However, even more importantly, the matrimonial disputes are often emotionally charged and it is much better to have a “cooler head” advocate on your behalf. You would be surprised how much simpler and more constructive the resolution of your case may prove to be once someone not personally vested in it gets involved.
In other cases, the people who want to start cohabitation or get married wish to determine their respective rights and obligations in the event their relationship falls apart. In that case, a marriage contract or cohabitation agreement is necessary to reflect their arrangement in writing. For such an agreement to be valid, certain requirements must be satisfied. In addition, any such agreement must be fair in relation to each party. That is why it is important for each party to be represented by an experienced family lawyer to ensure that their respective interests are adequately protected.
Over the years of my practice, I have represented many husbands and wives facing breakdown of their marital relationship and successfully advanced their interests in custody, access, child and spousal support and division of property disputes. I also drafted numerous separation agreements which alleviated the stress and cost of litigation for people whose relationships fell apart and just as many marriage contracts and cohabitation agreements for individuals who hope to live together happily ever after but want to protect their rights in case this does not work out.