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.
A divorce settlement agreement may also be known as:
Separation and Property Settlement Agreement
Custody, Support, and Property Agreement
Mediated Separation Agreement
Collaborative Settlement Agreement
Property Settlement Agreement (PSA)
Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA)
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.
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.
The components of a divorce settlement agreement include:
When you write a divorce settlement agreement, it’s important to work with your soon-to-be former spouse. Remember that what the two of you can agree on in this document can help make the divorce process quicker, easier, and less expensive than a drawn-out divorce trial. You’ll both have to compromise. You both likely will not get 100% what you want. However, with some give and take, you can get through the process. Here’s how you can write the agreement:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.