Reconciliation Agreements in Kansas City
Reconciliation Agreements in Divorce
Reconciliation agreements are a type/form of post-nuptial agreement. Generally, spouses will enter into a post-nuptial (or ante-nuptial agreement) during the marriage for the purpose of deciding how they want to distribute or divide assets in the event of a divorce. The specific purpose of a reconciliation agreement, however, is to help the couple try to heal the marriage and come together after residing separately when there has been an issue or even a series of issues that has damaged the marriage. In some situations this is from infidelity or affairs, in other situations, it may be drug or alcohol use, an anger management problem or even separation following an unhappy period in the marriage. One spouse may have told the other spouse he has filed or is filing for divorce and/or may have even filed for divorce. By the parties entering into a reconciliation agreement, the parties are documenting their intention to stay married, dismiss any pending divorce proceedings and provide promises/agreements to one another about what would occur with their assets in the event the intention to divorce is reinstated. For some parties, if there has been serious issues such as domestic violence, and where one party has indicated that they have received treatment for their domestic violence issues, a reconciliation agreement is a method of showing the victim-spouse’s family that there is remedies and solutions in the event the offending spouse engages in domestic violence in the future.
Call Pingel Family Law today at (816) 208-8130 or contact us online to schedule your consultation!
Missouri and Kansas Reconciliation Agreements
Missouri and Kansas courts have upheld reconciliation (or post-nuptial agreements) when they are properly and appropriately drafted and meet the requirements of the state law, such as allowing the parties adequate time to consider the options, meaningful negotiation, independent legal counsel and advice for each party, among other factors. Generally, reconciliation comport with the public policy of the state of Missouri and Kansas in supporting and promoting marriage and trying to discourage divorce/provide parties solutions outside of proceeding with divorce. As with other types of agreements, the courts look to whether meaningful legal consideration (meaning each party provided and offered something of value, though not necessarily equal value) in negotiating the agreement. This means that each party has received something valuable in entering into the agreement. Ultimately, as with any post-nuptial or reconciliation agreement, the fairness of the agreement will be determined by the court at the time the party seeks to enforce it.
What is Adequate Consideration in a Reconciliation Agreement?
In many cases, the consideration given by one party to a reconciliation agreement is the willingness or agreement to remain married to the other party, foregoing the divorce that was either filed or contemplated. If a post-nuptial agreement was entered during the course of a marriage, without other issues occurring which would cause the parties to contemplate divorce, this may not be adequate consideration. However, in the context of a reconciliation agreement, the current status of the marriage and the contemplation of divorce proceedings can be viewed, by the court, as adequate consideration. A court, when considering enforcement of the agreement, will look at the marital discord which proceeded the negotiation of the reconciliation agreement and whether grounds/reasons for the divorce request existed at the time the reconciliation agreement was being negotiated.
How are Reconciliation Agreements Enforced in Kansas and Missouri?
As with all agreements when courts are enforcing them, the court will generally look very closely at the terms. The party seeking to enforce the agreement is likely to bear the burden of proving that the agreement is fair, conscionable and enforceable. If the terms of the agreement are vague, or there is no significant promises/agreements made, a court is not likely to find the agreement enforceable. For example, an agreement by one spouse to dismiss their divorce filing, in exchange for another spouse to ensure that he or she does not engage in “cheating behavior” in the future would be unlikely to be enforceable. There would be nothing preventing that spouse from dismissing the divorce filing and re-filing it the next day, if desired. There is no good way for the court to determine the definition of cheating behavior.
The more specific a reconciliation agreement is, the greater the likelihood that the court will enforce it. Specifically, many reconciliation agreements will contain an outline of the marital problems/discord, what the parties are doing to fix or address the behavior and the consideration or specific benefits promised to the other party. Many reconciliation agreements specify a time period the parties intend to remain reconciled and will include financial benefits such as providing spousal support or a favorable or beneficial division of assets and debts. It is important that the specific promises the parties are making/agreeing to be clearly articulated and outlined in the agreement.
Given that judges have wide discretion and latitude in determining fairness, it can be difficult to be certain whether a reconciliation agreement entered into will be enforced by the court. Getting advice from an experienced family law attorney who has drafted, prepared and negotiated many pre-nuptial, post-nuptial and reconciliation agreements is critical to success in getting the agreement enforced. The court will require the agreement to be in writing, signed by both parties and both parties need independent legal counsel. The parties must also have received full and honest financial disclosure, including assets and debts, income, expenses and debts/other financial obligations. Again, this is something that requires the assistance of legal counsel to prepare in the proper legal mechanism.
Unfortunately, some family law attorneys do not focus on helping clients find reconciliation and restoring their families, when that is the client’s ultimate and desired outcome, even in seeking consultation with a family law attorney. If you are looking for an attorney to support a process of reconciling your family, we are here to help and support that process!
At Pingel Family Law, our attorneys are experienced in preparing post-nuptial and reconciliation agreements. We can come up with creative solutions for your circumstances and family needs to facilitate the outcome you are looking for.
Please call us today at (816) 208-8130 to schedule your consultation to put our knowledge and experience to work for you.
"I have known Attorney Pingel for more than fifteen (15) years. Mandee is a lawyer I consider a respected colleague. She has a reputation for being intelligent, knowledgeable about the law, well-prepared and kind."- A Lawyer in Liberty, Missouri