What Is a Marital Settlement Agreement?
Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, most divorces – legally known as a Dissolution of Marriage – will involve one or more of the following issues: custody, visitation, support (child and spousal), and property distribution (assets & debts). Many couples are able to resolve certain issues prior to trial and proceed to trial only on a limited number of matters. For example, a couple may reach an agreement as to the distribution of the marital property but are not able to reach an agreement as to custody, visitation, and support. In that instance, the only issues that will be dealt with at trial are custody, visitation, and support.
How can some issues be resolved and not others? What if all issues are resolved- are we still required to go to court? The method for achieving this is by using a Marital Settlement Agreement. A Marital Settlement Agreement is an agreement between the parties as to some or all of the above-referenced issues. For example, if only the division of assets and debts are agreed upon, that division is then stated in the Marital Settlement Agreement, signed by the parties and submitted to the Court to sign as an Order or attached to a Judgment to become a partial Judgment. The remaining issues are then left for trial. If all issues are agreed upon and contained in the Marital Settlement Agreement, then that can be attached to and become a Judgment or Stipulated Judgment once signed, submitted to the Court and signed by the Judge. In California, generally no one even needs to even appear in court if a full Stipulated Judgment is submitted together with the required supporting declaration and forms.
The substantial benefit of reaching a Marital Settlement Agreement is that both parties have direct input into, and fully understand, what the orders will be. In order to successfully reach a Marital Settlement Agreement, the parties will need to be prepared to compromise. However, a Marital Settlement Agreement reached through a series of compromises will often times be preferable to a decision by the Court that makes orders based on only a limited amount of testimony and evidence.
At the end of the day, the certainty that a negotiated Marital Settlement Agreement brings to the divorce process can be a great relief to the parties. This isn’t to say that both parties will get everything they want. However, it does give them a clear understanding of what the Court’s orders will be and does not subject them to what often times seems like an arbitrary orders based on the Court’s ruling.
For further information, contact attorney Jeffrey D. Stearman at the Law Office of Jeffrey D. Stearman in Fullerton, Orange County, CA. for legal assistance.
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Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter.