I have a separation agreement that was signed in July 2011 by both parties. We didn’t have a hearing yet, and the agreement didn’t go through the court. I want to update it based on the new alimony law. The other party wants to keep it as is. The other party’s lawyer is threatening to file a motion to have me “advance funds toward any additional fees to seek compliance with the agreement.” What are my rights?
This may start to become a more frequent issue. The signed agreement is considered to be a contract that may be enforceable, but without being approved by a Probate Court Judge as part of a Divorce Judgment, it will not be enforced by the Probate Court. A Probate Court Judge would have to make a finding that your agreement is fair and reasonable under the current laws. If this agreement would no longer pass that test according to a Probate Court Judge, then the agreement would not be approved. You might want to consider divorce mediation for this particular issue. Clearly there were reasons why the agreement was signed, but was not presented to the court in a divorce hearing. The answer here of what will happen to this agreement is not clear cut either way and mediation would allow the two of you to deal with just this particular issue. The legal fees may be quite high to address this one issue. You could discuss it in mediation and still feel that the balance of the agreement will be kept intact which coming to a mutually agreeable solution in light of the changes in the law and the fact that the agreement had not yet been made a court order.