What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?
Like the name implies, a marital settlement agreement is an agreement between you and your partner or spouse that states your obligations and duties in dissolving your marriage.
Most settlement agreements determine the division of property, assets and debts as well as physical and legal custody of any minor children born of the marriage or relationship. Child support and spousal maintenance may also be included in the settlement agreement.
Preparing the Marital Settlement Agreement
Many couples are able to work out an agreement without the necessity of court intervention or litigation but often the advice of a divorce attorney is worth the expense in avoiding disputes while you are negotiating the terms or after you have signed and finalized it.
There are some steps you can follow in preparing the agreement:
- Decide what property was acquired before you were married and determine which will stay with that particular spouse.
- List all the property acquired during the marriage and decide who will keep these items.
- If there were any gifts or inheritances, this property goes to the person who inherited the property or to whom the gift was intended.
- If there was any property obtained after you were separated, it should remain with the party who acquired it.
- Determine the custody, living arrangements and visitation schedule for your minor children. State who has the obligation to pay health insurance and other expenses directly affecting them.
- Child support and any spousal maintenance or other financial arrangements need to stated as well.
- Lastly, divide the debts between you and state that a particular party is solely responsible.
Consider Consulting an Attorney
Couples who are dissolving their marital relationship amicably can often draft their own agreement by following a template or other form that can be downloaded online. Difficult issues often arise regarding financial affairs or arrangements or determining who will have primary responsibility for the children.
Consulting a divorce attorney can often resolve many of these issues or some form of mediation or alternative dispute resolution may be an option in lieu of costly litigation.