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In divorce as in life, you can't afford to overlook the details

Whether we like it or not, many of life's successes and failures come down to paperwork. The same is true in divorce and other family law disputes. The documents you sign have the power of the courts behind them, which is why it is so important to understand what you're signing and to make sure that no detail is overlooked.

A recent case is an example that, while extreme, illustrates this point. According to news sources, a wealthy businessman has been ordered to pay his estranged wife a lump sum of $11 million because neglected to sign their revised divorce agreement.

The man, described as a "sugar commodities honcho," began divorce proceedings with his wife several years ago. The agreement reached in 2013 called for the $11 million lump-sum payment followed by an additional $50 million over four years.

Even for someone who is very wealthy, handing over so much money so quickly can be a burden. Perhaps that's why the couple negotiated a different deal to spread things out a little more: $5 million annually over the next 12 years.

This certainly sounds like a more reasonable solution. But for some reason, the husband never actually signed the agreement. His wife sought to have the agreement rescinded (and to reinstate the original one), and a judge agreed. The judge said: "I have no doubt there were very substantial negotiations, and it appears the parties were very close to entering into a settlement," but it was never signed. "It would have taken five seconds for the parties and their attorneys to sign it," he added.

It's unclear whether the man forgot to sign it or simply refused to do so. But in either case, failing to act was not a wise decision.

If you are going through a divorce, the minutia is often crucial. That's why you need to work with an attorney who is organized, thorough and detail-oriented.

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