What Are Marital Settlement Agreements?

A marital settlement agreement or divorce settlement agreement is part of a divorce contract where properties and liabilities that both the couple own will be split. And the agreement aims to settle various elements such as custody, child support, alimony, etc. And in filing for a divorce, a marital settlement agreement will also be tackled because the judge is expected to approve the agreement before issuing the decree of divorce.

According to Statista’s 2020 research survey, 2.3 out of every 1,000 population in America┬áhad a divorce.

Why Is a Marital Settlement Agreement Important?

Marital or marriage settlement agreements are essential to make sure that divorce or legal separation is processed properly and legally. In fact, did you know that 2.3 of every 1,000 population in the US had a divorce in 2020? Indeed, and to settle a divorce with an agreement that is notarized and uncontested is necessary to prevent future conflicts. And you can’t underestimate this document because it tackles the division of rights, properties, liabilities, and other legal aspects between ex-spouses.

It Takes More than Two: Parts of a Marital Settlement Agreement

While it takes two to make a wedded couple, the parts of a marital settlement agreement actually have a bunch of topics to cover. And they are crucial to talk about so that the divorce runs justifiably and peacefully, if possible. So without further ado, here are the main parts of a marital settlement agreement:

Statistical Information: The basic information will be under the statistical information section. Just like a client information sheet, this part mentions the names of parties, names of their children, birth dates, ages, and other personal info. Most importantly, mention the complete date of marriage and date of separation.Child Custody and Visitation: Joint legal custody of the ex-spouses’ minor children must be considered. Just like in a custody agreement, parents must take responsibility for deciding the children’s health, welfare, and education. Also, decide when and how often each parent can visit the kids.Child Support: More so of the child custody agreement is to talk about child support in the MSA. So how much should each ex-spouse allocate for child support per month? It must be discussed thoroughly in this section.Spousal Support: Besides dealing with child custody modification, MSA also involves spousal support. There would be a sum of fees to deal with if spousal support is involved. But if no spousal support is talked about, the MSA should clearly waiver this section and that all parties agree or understand the decision of waiving spousal support.Termination of Joint Tenancies: Expect the marital settlement agreement to highlight the need to terminate joint tenancy ownership. Examples of the termination agreement to discuss are real estate properties, vehicles, and institutional accounts.Division of Community or Co-Owned Property: The community and the co-owned property would be split to equate to the community or co-owned property’s aggregate net fair market value. Also, enumerate the community and co-owned property obligations in this segment.Credits and Reimbursements: Waiving all rights to credits and reimbursements is critical as well. The same goes for the income taxes needed to calculate in the MSA.General Provisions: Just like any binding agreement, the MSA must have its own set of general provisions. Examples include the state laws applicable in your area and the stipulated judgment.Waiver of Right to Inherit by Will or Otherwise: Inheriting any part of the estate of the ex-spouse would also be waived in the MSA. And don’t forget to mention the mutual specific releases afterward.Acknowledgments: Full acknowledgment that each party is fully informed and understood the subject matter is standard. There’s no need to write a long statement of acknowledgment but just a short paragraph that acknowledgment was definitely there.Payment of Attorney Fees and Costs: Be sure to promise that parties would be the attorney fees and other involved costs in the marital settlement agreement. You may incorporate the full price list in this section too.Effectivity Date and Court Action: Finally, state the official effectivity date of the marriage dissolution. It must be approved by the court and both parties should affix their name and signature to the agreement to confirm everything.

How to Create a Marital Settlement Agreement

Although every legal procedure in going through legal separation, divorce, dissolution of marriage can be intimidating, always aim to keep things in order wherein the settlement won’t make your life miserable. So after the discussion of the MSA’s definition, importance, and parts, it is time to learn the steps on how to make a marital settlement agreement:

Step 1: Use a Sample Marital Settlement Agreement

Why bother making marital settlement agreements from scratch when there are free, easy-to-use, and premade sample templates you can use to create such agreements? As seen above this article, editable and printable martial settlement agreement samples are ready to be optimized. So be sure to use these agreement templates and you can edit the format, design, and content after.

Step 2: Add the Standard Parts of MSA

Remember the basic parts of a marital settlement agreement, which were discussed earlier? Use that section as your document checklist on what parts to insert in the MSA. From the statistical information down to the effectivity date and court action, these elements slowly complete your MSA. But you can also add more relevant components such as the advisement of right to discovery, petitioner’s separate property confirmation, equalization of community property, and more.

Step 3: Review and Polish the Agreement

Don’t forget to review if the details written in the MSA are accurate and complete. Remember that it is a legal document so striking errors could be used against you in court. Also, polish the presentation and details in the agreement. Well-formatted and easy-to-read MSAs are much better than simply jumbling information into the agreement. And you can always consult an attorney to help you in processing the marital settlement agreement.


What happens after MSA?

When you and your ex have completed and agreed on an MSA, it will be submitted to the court and they will use it in judging the divorce decree for review or approval. The agreement will eventually be legally binding once approved and the parties should respect the terms written in the MSA.

Divorcing without any strategic plan for the settlement is a recipe for disaster. Remember that going through divorce alone can be physically and emotionally daunting so don’t make it worse with a disastrous settlement. And that is why the marital settlement agreement exists so the dissolution of marriage will run according to legal terms and that both parties in the process would respect the agreement itself. Download a sample marital settlement agreement now!