Divorce Settlement Agreement Form

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A divorce settlement agreement template is an easy to use legally binding document between two individuals who are going through the divorce process. The purpose of the document is to state in writing how the assets and debts will be split. It may also address topics such as child custody or visitation. Divorce settlement agreement forms are state specific. This means that they must comply with the divorce laws in the state where the divorce takes place. Divorce settlement agreements must also be approved by the judge overseeing the divorce.

What Is a Divorce Settlement Agreement?

A divorce settlement agreement is used by a couple who knows they will be filing for or who have already filed for divorce. This agreement covers the distribution of the couple's assets, including property, bank account balances, and debts. It could also include suggestions for child custody and spousal support.

The agreement is a legal document that provides the stipulations of the agreement in writing so that both parties can completely understand the terms. The agreement should be filed before the final judgment, when the divorce will be completely finalized. A properly completed divorce settlement agreement can help the proceeding move more quickly and reduce the amount of time spent in court.

Other Names

A divorce settlement agreement may also be known as:

Separation Agreement

Separation and Property Settlement Agreement

Custody, Support, and Property Agreement

Mediated Separation Agreement

Collaborative Settlement Agreement

Property Settlement Agreement (PSA)

Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA)

When Do You Need a Divorce Agreement?

You should use a divorce agreement if you’re getting a divorce. While divorce is not an easy process, a divorce settlement agreement can make the process faster and easier. This is because the parties to the divorce can document how they agree to handle assets, liabilities, support, and custody and / or visitation of minor children shared by the couple.

You can only use a divorce settlement agreement if:

You know how to contact your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

You and your spouse agree as to how assets and liabilities will be divided. If you have minor children and the two of you agree on child support and custody, you can also use this document.

Your spouse agrees to negotiate with you on how to split the assets and liabilities. If you have minor children, your spouse agrees to negotiate with you in regards to custody and visitation. Child support is a federal matter. While you may both suggest an agreed upon amount or even no support, the judge may still order that child support be paid.

You plan to meet with a lawyer with your spouse for a collaborative divorce (meaning that you both want the divorce and you’re working together to take care of it) and you want to show the lawyer what the two of you would like to do with assets and liabilities.

Consequences of Not Using One

If the parties cannot use a divorce settlement agreement (or simply cannot agree on the terms of one), it will be up to the judge to determine, by state law, how assets and liabilities will be divided. Custody, child support, visitation, and even spousal support will also be left to the judge. Both parties must be ready to argue why they think they should receive what they want. This isn’t necessarily an easy process. In fact, it could backfire on you.

Another consequence of not using a divorce settlement agreement is a potential increase of time and money spent on the divorce process. If the two of you can’t agree, you could both spend far more time and money on getting the matter squared away.

Components of a Divorce Settlement Agreement

The components of a divorce settlement agreement include:

  • An identifying title for the document.
  • Identifying information of the spouses, their lawyers, any minor children, and any person who is appointed to represent the best interest of the children.
  • A statement that the parties are getting a divorce and the reason why the divorce is being filed (even if it is a no-fault divorce).
  • Identify the property (or assets) that need to be divided as well as how it will be divided. Keep in mind that this may largely depend on whether you’re in a community property state. Additionally, inheritances and other assets that seem to belong to just one of the spouses may also be affected by the divorce under state law or because of how the two of your decide to divide the assets.
  • How child custody, visitation / parenting time, and child support will be addressed.
  • The amount of spousal support, if any, that will be paid and for how long it will be paid. It may also state under what conditions. For example, until the other spouse remarries or for six months.
  • The jurisdiction (county and state) where the divorce will occur.
  • A clear explanation of how everything will be divided, any necessary forms such as a special warranty deed or quitclaim deed, and the date by which the distribution should be completed.
  • A signature line and date for the involved parties and their attorney(s).

Legal Considerations

Because divorce is a legal process and because a divorce settlement agreement is legally binding, it’s important that you consider the answers to the following questions.

Do I Need an Attorney?

From a technical standpoint, the answer is no. You can represent yourself in any legal proceeding, including separation and divorce. The same can be said for a divorce settlement agreement. You don’t technically need an attorney. With that being said, though, an attorney can help make sure that (a) you’re treated fairly during the divorce process and in the settlement agreement and (b) that you’re protected as a parent. The court does not look solely at the gender of a parent when making a decision on custody. They consider the best interest of the child. A lawyer can also help you avoid fights with your former partner by speaking with them on your behalf. They can also represent you during the divorce process.

Do I Need to Enter into an Agreement Before Separating?

No, you do not need to enter into an agreement before separating. In fact, if you’re leaving at a time that is emotionally volatile for either or both of you, it may be better to wait a few days before you talk about a settlement agreement. Sometimes, you can’t reach a settlement agreement before you file for divorce. There are times where couples do not finalize their agreement until the day of their divorce hearing. Yet, the sooner that you and the other party can come to an agreement, the easier and less expensive the divorce process will be.

What If We Settle Everything Before Court?

That’s great! If you both settle everything before court, you may be able to simply present the agreement to the judge who will make sure that the terms are relatively fair. It will then be made part of the divorce decree.

Can I Write My Own Agreement?

Sure, but it’s important to make sure that your agreement complies with state law. There are some drawbacks to writing your own. You could accidentally miss an important provision. You could forget to add in certain assets or liabilities. It may not be clear enough to prevent misunderstandings. If you do write your own, it is a good idea to have it reviewed by a lawyer for clarity, to ensure legality, and to make sure that you haven’t missed anything.

Can We Modify Our Divorce Agreement?

Yes, but it isn’t necessarily easy to do. Once the two of you agree on the settlement and it becomes part of the divorce decree, it can only be changed through a modification agreement. You must both agree to the change being made. If you don’t both agree, the divorce decree will not be modified.

Sample Divorce Settlement Agreement

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Sample Divorce Settlement Agreement

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