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My spouse's counsel drafted a separation agreement. Why should I obtain counsel?

Winchester, VA |

1. We have no children/real estate. Property is distributed clearly. Spousal support is waived in lieu of my making her car payments until paid off (I accept this). Everything appears to be crystal clear. Why should I hire counsel?

2. We have been seperated 6 months. I live in a different state. Her counsel insisted I sign the agreement first and mail it. I will attach a letter stating: "If I do not receive an exact duplicate of the agreement with the original notorized signatures of both parties I will assume an agreement was not reached and file a motion to dismiss any divorce proceedings until one year of separation has been reached" I will attach a return envelope with paid postage so they can send it free. Will this suffice to ensure I get a copy of the agreement once signed?

Attorney Answers 2


  1. If the divorce is occurring in VA, then you may divorce after six months when there is a separation agreement in place and there are no children. It does have to be signed and agreed to prior to the filing for the divorce. Counsel typically sends 3-5 originals - each of which must be signed and each of which may be used as an original. One original goes to the court, one or two originals go to each party (one for counsel, one to the individual). Sending a self-addressed stamped envelope always helps.

    For number 1, it is always in your best interests to review the issues with an attorney. For instance, I can tell you right now that you could potentially wind up with issues by making the car payments. First, spousal support is deducted as income from your taxes, car payments are not. Second, what happens if the car is in an accident and totaled?

    So, you have presented only one small facet of the agreement and issues have been discovered. That is why it is good to retain counsel to review a separation agreement. Certainly, you may choose to accept those terms even after review, and it may be that you were aware of the issues that might arise, but hiring an attorney may well pay off in the long run. It may be as simple as asking someone to review it and give advice/recommendations, but not getting fully involved in the divorce.

    Please note that this response is based upon the limited information available in the question. In addition, it is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship and is offered only as general information and not as legal advice.


  2. I agree with the above attorney. Retaining counsel is not always necessary, but would be recommended for review of the PSA and oversight of the process.

    This answer is for general informational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. It is always recommended that you contact an attorney licensed in your state, that practices in the relevant area of law, to schedule an in-person consultation.

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