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Marital Settlement Agreements in a Divorce

Property settlement agreement

When you are going through the process of divorce, every opportunity you can get to reduce the time, anxiety, tension, anger, and costs that come along with it should be seized. One significant area that can bring tremendous relief is when the divorcing parties are able to work together to draft a marital settlement agreement (MSA; also referred to as a Marital Separation Agreement) that they both agree to.

MSAs or divorce settlements are designed to identify the terms of the divorce and cover such aspects as child custody and support, spousal support, division of property, how the debts will be handled, and other matters related to the divorce.

Not every divorcing couple will be able to reach an agreement that will result in an MSA. The reality is that divorce is often tied to strong disagreements and/or tension and volatility…thus, spilling over into the divorce process. That said, if you and your spouse are on talking and negotiable terms and are able to reach agreements on topics such as property, debt, minor children and other key areas, a marital settlement agreement could be a realistic solution.

Beyond having the peace of mind that an agreement can be reached between you and your soon to be ex-spouse, there are some other potential advantages of preparing an MSA. 

Advantages of a Marital Settlement Agreement

  • They can be entered into before the final judgment is entered. By reaching an agreement of the related terms, this can reduce the costs and emotional roller coaster of going into court to argue your positions.
  • It sets forth the terms that have been agreed to in writing.
  • In some situations, the court may recognize and honor the MSA, thus relieving the parties from having to return to court.
  • Most important, it shows the court that you were able to work through the different parts of the divorce together.

It is important to understand that an MSA requires both parties to be involved with its preparation. This means that you both have to work together and reach an agreement. Also, if you intend to prepare your MSA without the guidance of a qualified family attorney, be sure to check with your state laws related to the agreements.