Sometimes when we are working on a divorce agreement at Westfield Mediation, LLC, our divorce mediation clients ask us, "Why do we need to be so specific on the details?" They want to keep things open and flexible. In other cases, clients want all the details included – exact time of pickup for the kids, exactly how much can be spent on which kids' activities, specific dollar amounts to be distributed for assets and debts, etc.
So, which is the better approach?
Generally, it is good to have some specifics in the divorce agreement, because the current mood of openness and friendliness may change over time, and it is useful to have a blueprint to return to if arguments arise at a later date. Nailing down the details now may avoid later problems. You can always both agree to do something different from the official plan filed in court -- but if you disagree, consulting the agreement might help settle the dispute.
Of course, it is also useful to build some flexibility into the divorce and post-divorce plan. Children's needs change over time, and their expenses and interests may vary in unexpected ways. Moreover, the parents' job situations may differ over time as well. So, there has to be some wiggle room in the agreement to deal with these possible developments. In our experience, the best divorce agreement provides guidance for the future as well as opportunities to review the plan to make any necessary revisions.