Can a Reconciliation Agreement be an Alternative to a Divorce? 

Can a Reconciliation Agreement be an Alternative to a Divorce? 

Reconciliation agreements spell out what both parties in a troubled marriage need to do in order to get back on track, and includes what will happen if it does or doesn’t. If your relationship is having serious problems, do you want to save it? If so, this may be worth a try and it has the benefit of some certainty over what will happen if the relationship ends in a divorce or not. If you live in the Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico and Harrisonburg areas and think this approach might be right for you, we may be able to help.

A reconciliation agreement is a postnuptial agreement allowing couples to give themselves a chance put their marriage back on track while stating in advance the terms of a split if the reconciliation fails or succeeds.

One could include a promise to get substance abuse treatment, stop having extra-marital affairs, or a promise by one or both parties to work less and give more time to each other. If these goals aren’t met, the practical details of a divorce will already have been agreed to and formalized.

These agreements allow couples to have a fresh start

Written commitments shared with others may be more likely to stick, especially if grave consequences of failing are also spelled out. They can help couples feel more secure personally, emotionally and financially because there is a future path spelled out, even if it may split in two in the future.

Reconciliation agreements can prevent some of the unknowns of a divorce and may help avoid the emotion and cost that comes if a divorce happens in the end. The terms of a split written into an agreement hopefully would’ve been agreed to when a couple is more hopeful and constructive rather than at a bitter end of a relationship.

A reconciliation agreement could be created at any time after a marriage takes place

It may help a couple after serious problems have come up. It could be the result of marriage counseling or the help of a family law mediator. This agreement may also be an option if the couple no longer lives together but haven’t yet gotten a divorce.

This agreement can try to set down who will have what kind of child custody as well as who will pay how much child and spousal support. If the couple divorces it will ultimately be up to a judge to decide whether or not the agreement is enforceable as is or needs to be changed. Child support that deviates from state guidelines may not be approved and child custody arrangements will need to be in the child’s best interests.

A reconciliation agreement needs to meet several requirements to become legally binding in Virginia

It needs to be a written document explaining the terms of their agreement. The spouses must both sign under oath and their signatures need to be witnessed by a notary.

A judge can “affirm, ratify and incorporate by reference” the spouses’ agreement in the divorce decree, the court order ending the marriage. Once affirmed, ratified and incorporated, the divorce settlement becomes a part of the divorce decree and either spouse may ask for court enforcement of the terms.

If you live in the Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico and Harrisonburg areas and you think your marriage might end in a divorce and want to discuss creating a reconciliation agreement, call Cravens & Noll P.C., at 804-330-9220 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an initial consultation. We can discuss your situation, your legal rights and your best options for moving forward.

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