Does the term shall constitute obligation in a separation agreement?

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Does the term shall constitute obligation in a separation agreement?

My separation agreement states that my ex shall
take the dog and I shall take the cats,
however, I decided I do not want them. Can I
be held in contempt of the agreement and
possibly serve jail time over this of I refuse
to go back to get the cats?

Asked on October 4, 2018 under Family Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, "shall" is mandatory: it is the equivalent of "must" or "is required." Whether your ex will push the issue and seek sanctions against you for not taking the cats is a different issue, but you will legally be in violation of the agreement. Take the cats and put them up for adoption.


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