Marital Settlement Agreement – What Is It?
Marital Settlement Agreement – you may have heard of this. Couples who are getting divorced in Florida will be required to submit to the court a document called a “Marital Settlement Agreement.” This document is the opportunity for parties to put in writing exactly what they are agreeing to and it will encompass all the terms and/or conditions of the divorce settlement. It will allow them to reach an amicable settlement in lieu of further litigation.
Marital Settlement Agreement – What Is Included?
This will include items like the equitable distribution of marital property, assets and liabilities. By this I mean things like who gets the big screen TV or who will pay off all those credit card debts.
One of the biggest issues parties will have is when there is real property such as the marital home owned by the parties. The parties will need to decide how to dispose of this property.
Marriage Settlement Agreement – Questions to Ask
Will the property be sold?
Who will have use and enjoyment of the property until such time as it is sold?
Who will be responsible for the expenses related to the property until it is sold?
How will the profits be divided upon sale?
If one party will be keeping the property, will the interest in the property be transferred by quit claim deed? Will the loan be refinanced into one party’s name?
What happens if that party fails to secure a loan?
Who will pay other expenses related to the property such as taxes, utilities and maintenance?
The answers to these questions deserve some serious thought and I suggest a conference with an accountant to determine what tax implications might be involved.
All of the above must be considered on any big ticket item the parties own. An automobile is a great example of an item that will have similar concerns.
Marital Settlement Agreement – Options
Parties will also have the opportunity to memorialize any agreements regarding alimony/spousal support, child support, division of retirement assets such as 401k etc. In the past a marital settlement agreement was the place for couples to determine all issues regarding the children such as visitation/time sharing. Now in Florida the courts require a parenting plan to be submitted which is a separate document.
What is the Impact of a Marital Settlement Agreement?
Once the parties have reached, and signed off on the marital settlement agreement, the divorce is essentially settled and the only thing left is for the judge to sign off on the final judgment which ratifies that agreement. If an agreement can’t be reached then naturally the parties will have to further litigate over unresolved issues. This can become a tedious and expensive process. You also don’t want to leave these decisions to the court if it can be helped.
Once the settlement agreement is signed it will be a binding “contract” and both parties will be bound by its terms. Once the judge signs off on the final judgment, the marital settlement agreement will be the guidepost for the parties and the court to conduct themselves going forward. Failure to abide by those terms is subject to the courts enforcement powers. Most parties don’t know this but a defaulting party can also be required to pay the other party’s legal fees as well as court costs if they are forced to bring the matter before the court to force compliance.
Please take a look at the link I have provided below to see a sample of the Florida Supreme Court form for a marital settlement agreement. It will give you a good idea of the issues you should be thinking about and discussing with your spouse in hopes of reaching an amicable resolution to all issues.
Florida Divorce Paperwork Series
This is part of a series on important documents and paperwork that are commonly part of a Florida divorce:
Please look for future posts regarding other documents used in the process:
The UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION ACT (UCCJA) AFFIDAVIT
The notice of social security number
The Final Judgment
The Financial Affidavit
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