A divorce settlement agreement is a contract outlining the agreements made between divorcing spouses. All of the issues surrounding a divorce, such as alimony and the separation of community property, are settled out-of-court by the two parties negotiating with one another. This type of agreement is generally used in uncontested divorces.
What Does the Settlement Agreement Include?
The agreement can include agreed-upon terms for issues such as:
- Child support
- Child visitation
- Child custody
- Division of property
- Mortgage payments on any shared property
- Spousal support
- Division of marital debts
Is a Divorce Agreement the Same as a Separation Agreement?
No, a separation agreement is an agreement created between two people who are still married, but are contemplating divorce. This type of agreement primarily exists to provide a temporary solution to any immediate problems at a separated couple might face, such as who will live in the marital home and who will have primary custody of any children.
Do I Have to Have a Divorce Agreement?
A divorce agreement is never legally required. However, it is still a good idea to have a divorce agreement because the agreement decreases the number of issues a divorce judge needs to decide in court. Also, it is helpful to have the agreement for enforcement when a spouse does not fulfill the promises made in the agreement.
What If We Can Only Agree on Some Issues?
An agreement where only some of the issues are decided is called a partial divorce settlement agreement. The document will include only the issues that have been agreed upon. All other issues will be resolved at a divorce trial.
Will the Court Automatically Approve Our Agreement?
There is a good chance that the court will approved your agreement. Courts are usually reluctant to interfere with a divorce settlement agreement unless:
- A spouse claims the settlement was not entered into voluntarily
- One spouse does not understand their rights regarding property distribution
- A spouse is giving up a lot of assets without receiving anything in return
- The custodial parent accepts significantly reduced child support or waives their right to it
- One spouse gives up their right to their spouse’s retirement accounts
Should I Contact a Divorce Lawyer to Help Me Negotiate a Divorce Settlement Agreement?
Yes, you should be represented by a divorce lawyer in any divorce proceedings. A lawyer is vital to negotiating a divorce settlement because you want to ensure a fair, equitable agreement.