What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?

At a quick glance, the separation of marriage is often immediately associated with conflict, and rightfully so. After all, when one spouse files for a divorce, he/she has determined that the marriage cannot be salvaged for some reason or another. In many cases this conflict will extend beyond the marriage itself and into issues such as alimony, asset distribution, and child support as well as custody. When conflicts like this arise, litigation becomes a necessity. Yet as you may know, conflicts regarding these issues may not always be present leaving formal litigation unnecessary for every issue in a divorce proceeding. In fact, there are other avenues available to pursue in you.  If you are thinking about consulting with a Tallahassee divorce attorney, consider the following.

Suppose you and your spouse are operating in a similar mindset. You both wish to be separated and you both think you can come to an agreement on your shared possessions along with your post-marriage rights and responsibilities. If this is the case, formal litigation and the discretion of the court is probably not necessary, but rather, you and your spouse have the option to use the avenue of a Marital Separation Agreement.

A Marital Separation Agreement is a written document outlining the issues that both spouses have agreed upon such as the distribution of assets, alimony, and child support. In order to specify time-sharing and child custody, you must also file a parenting plan which will be referenced in the Marital Separation Agreement as well.  If every issue is agreed upon, you and your spouse have an uncontested divorce.  As a Tallahassee divorce lawyer who has handled hundreds of family law cases in North Florida, it is always a pleasure to help a client come to a settlement and guide them through an uncontested dissolution of marriage.

You or your spouse may file a Marital Separation Agreement at the beginning of the divorce proceedings and ask that it be merged into the final ruling. Typically, a judge will review the agreement, financial affidavits and parenting plans to ensure that there is no sign of coercion or blatant unfairness present.

Should I get a lawyer to help me fill out my Marital Settlement Agreement?

In short, yes. Often times, what may seem like a fair distribution of assets and liabilities at the surface may not be fair in the eyes of the law. A lawyer can advise you in the agreements that you choose to make with your spouse so that you do not ‘cheat yourself’ from what may be easily achievable through litigation. Additionally, the assumption of debt must be carefully distributed because creditors can pursue the ex-spouse of someone who defaults on a debt. These circumstances are not uncommon and the right lawyer will be able to help you draft an agreement that works to avoid trouble in the future.  There is nothing wrong with consulting with a divorce lawyer in Tallahassee or elsewhere in Florida, even if you just want to ensure you are being treated fairly.  The opposing party does not necessarily need to be informed you are talking to a lawyer.