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Interim Agreements: A Step to a Final Settlement

March 14, 2018  | 

{3:42 minutes to read} Interim agreements are agreements that determine certain terms before the parties sign a comprehensive separation agreement. Some of the topics that may be covered by these kinds of agreements could be: 

  • How to handle the sale of a house;
  • Support and parenting plans;
  • A provision that marital assets stop accumulating as of a certain date; and
  • Arranging for the disposition or purchase of a particular asset.

Typically, in my practice, clients informally agree upon matters such as these before they even begin the mediation. Many have already been living apart and determined how they want to share access with the children and pay expenses, or feel comfortable with a verbal agreement made during mediation. Still others feel that in the time it would take to consider the terms of an interim agreement, they could reach an overall settlement. All of these types of clients feel comfortable taking certain steps towards separation without a written agreement.

For those who don’t feel comfortable with informal agreements, though, interim agreements can be valuable, keeping both parties feeling secure and willing to continue in mediation.

There are two kinds of interim agreements that parties in a divorce mediation can make:

  1. A temporary interim agreement that is expected to be amended by further discussions; or
  2. A permanent interim agreement whose terms will ultimately become part of the overall separation agreement.

A temporary agreement would be helpful if the parties feel that they’re not quite ready to determine something such as final support terms, but one party is concerned about the other leaving the joint home without having something in writing about support payments. This temporary agreement would be binding until the parties ultimately agree to permanent support in a separation agreement, or if mediation is not successful, until an order of the court is made.

A permanent agreement could be used if the parties, for example, have mediated parenting and child support terms completely but are not yet ready to finalize the separation agreement on all terms. For whatever reason, the parties want to be bound by the terms they have agreed upon, and so sign a parenting and child support agreement. This parenting and child support plan will then be part of their Separation Agreement without further revision.

Whether temporary or permanent, entering into an interim agreement, while helpful, has serious consequences. The parties must be clear that they fully accept and are willing to abide by these terms since they will be binding unless the parties agree to change them. They must acknowledge that there will be additional fees and time incurred in the drafting of the interim agreement, and should have the agreements reviewed by counsel.

Clare Piro Attorney and Mediator

Attorney & Mediator
500 Mamaroneck Avenue | Suite 320
Harrison, NY 10528
Tel: 914.946.0848

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