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What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?

 

The main goal of every divorce case is to reach an agreement with your spouse. A Marital Settlement Agreement, written and signed by both spouses, is a contract that defines the terms of their divorce. Depending on the issues in your case, the Marital Settlement Agreement must address a variety of issues.

First, custody and parenting time issues must be addressed if children are involved.  The parties must identify if they are going to share joint legal custody.  They must also designate the Parent of Primary Residence and the Parent of Alternate Residence. A parenting plan needs to be specific. This plan should include a regular schedule as well as a schedule for holidays, vacations and other school breaks. The Marital Settlement Agreement assures each parent’s continued right to access medical and health related records as well as school related records. Language is added to ensure each parent’s right to continue to be involved in the children’s school events and functions.  This includes extracurricular activities and sporting events. Any special circumstance or issue surrounding the children should be addressed in the Agreement.

Other issues relating to the children must also be in the Agreement 

  • Child support.
  • Contribution to camp, day care, and activities.
  • Private school tuition and costs.
  • Health insurance and unreimbursed health expenses.
  • College – selection of college, the allocation of college tuition payment, and college loans.
  • Life insurance – there must be enough insurance to secure both the child support and college contribution obligations.
  • Emancipation – spell out the definition of emancipation.  Any special needs of the child which would alter or delay emancipation must be considered.

Alimony

The Agreement must provide the amount to be paid and the duration of the payment, if alimony is involved in the settlement.  Circumstances of when alimony is to end or be reviewed must be addressed. Provisions regarding modifiability or non-modifiability are also important elements to consider.  The Agreement must include life insurance to secure the alimony.

Assets and debts

The Agreement also must identify each and every asset and debt and allocate them. This includes real estate, mortgages, lines of credit, home equity loans, timeshares, investment property, credit cards, retirement assets, employment provided assets, student loans as well as ownership interests in a business.

Tax issues

Tax issues such as dependency deductions, tax credits, rebates and other tax considerations must be addressed.

Other issues

Future participation in mediation in the event of a dispute or the involvement of a parent coordinator for custody and parenting time issues are standard clauses as well as an agreement that the breaching party pays for the non-breaching party’s counsel fees in the event of a breach and a resulting enforcement application to the Court.

The Marital Settlement Agreement is a very important document as it is the roadmap for your post-divorce life. Your Agreement must contain all issues that are crucial to you.

Please contact me at jlawrence@lawlawfirm.com if you have questions about this post or any other family law matter.

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