Can a Separation Agreement be Overturned?

Can a Separation Agreement be Overturned?

For many couples, divorce is the outcome of their marriage. No matter how hard they tried to make it work, nothing could help. They filed for a separation agreement, and began the process of divorce. Unfortunately, this is the end for the majority of these couples. But could their separation agreement be changed or overturned? The answer is yes. Separation agreements can be changed or overturned by the court. However, this is an incredibly difficult process and cannot be achieved easily. There are only a few circumstances where this is possible.

When are Separation Agreements Valid?

First, it is important to remember that a separation agreement is not valid until it is signed by both parties. If both spouses decide during the process that they want to reconcile, then they can nullify the agreement. It can be done if one spouse has already signed. During the negotiation period, it is crucial that couples read the separation agreements very carefully. When one spouse presents their “draft agreement” it is safe to assume that this is their strongest argument. Reading this carefully and fully understanding it will help couples in the long run. If both spouses sign and then try to overturn the agreement later, the argument “I did not understand this,” is not going to be very helpful.

When both parties have signed the agreement, but either one or both spouses want it to be changed, couples can begin by negotiating an “addendum.” This is an addition to the original agreement that acts as if it was a part of the agreement from the beginning. Addendums can successfully change separation agreements if both parties agree to sign it. If one party does not, then it cannot be considered valid.

How Can Agreements be Overturned?

Regarding overturning separation agreements, this is an almost impossible process. The courts are the best place to attempt it. The level of difficulty in overturning separation agreements varies in each state. For instance, in some states there are only two things that can get an agreement overturned by the court. The first is if a spouse signed under duress. This means that if the spouse was forced to sign through the threat of violence. The second is that the agreement is deemed unconscionable. This means that the person who signed was not of sound mind.

Why Are Separation Agreements Hard to Overturn?

Both of these claims are difficult to prove. For instance, duress requires that extreme behavior was taken to get a spouse to sign. This would cover having a gun held to the head of one spouse by the other. Purely verbal threats are not enough on their own to grant the overturning of an agreement. Listing the threats in the court case will certainly help the case though, so don’t rule them out completely.

For unconscionability, this can be hard to prove because judges know that people sign terrible agreements all the time. People do not have to be insane to sign bad agreements. Sound-minded individuals sign these for almost any reason, especially if they are desperate enough. Some marriages fit this description. Spouses are so desperate to get out that they are willing to sign anything if it means the end of their marriage. The best chance that couples have of getting an agreement thrown out by unconscionability is if one spouse received literally everything in the marriage while the other walked away empty handed.

Separation agreements are not easy to overrule. However, this does not mean that it cannot be done. If you or someone you know is going through a separation and is starting to rethink their decision, please contact Christine Howard today. Christine will be glad to talk with you and answer any questions you may have regarding your agreement. Contact her by email at She can also be reached by phone at (846) 282-8575.

Referenced from “What If I Already Signed a Separation Agreement” by Katie Carter.