A marital settlement agreement is a written agreement that spouses contemplating divorce can voluntarily create in order to help simplify their impending divorce. While each marital settlement agreement is unique, these documents generally spell out important terms of the couple’s divorce such as:
- How their marital assets will be distributed,
- The parameters of any spousal support payments,
- The terms of their child custody arrangement, and
- Any other relevant terms that the couple agrees to.
Divorcing couples who are able to successfully create a mutually agreeable marital settlement agreement can save a great deal of time and money, not to mention emotional angst, while divorcing. Additionally, marital settlement agreements have been known to help promote amicable divorces, which can be especially helpful when the divorcing couple has children and will remain in eachother’s lives for years to come.
Spouses who have significant financial assets often find marital settlement agreements particularly helpful when going through a high asset divorce as these agreements enable them to work together to achieve better financial futures than a court ordered divorce judgment typically would afford them. For example, if a divorcing couple owns a vacation house they may be able to work out a way to keep the home so that they can both continue to vacation there with their children rather than selling the house or giving it fully to one spouse. Additionally, if the couple jointly owns a business they may be able to work out a way to continue sharing the business post-divorce without diminishing profitability. Furthermore, if a divorcing couple is able to jointly plan their separate financial futures they are often able to minimize the tax consequences of dividing their property. The list of potential benefits goes on and on and should be discussed with an experienced local divorce attorney.
How to Go About Reaching a Divorce Settlement Agreement
While divorce settlement agreements can be reached in a variety of different ways, they are usually negotiated during an out-of-court process involving the couple’s attorneys. The attorneys may negotiate directly on behalf of their clients, or the couple may use a mediator. A mediator acts as a neutral third party who acts to facilitate dialogue and open communication between the parties in order help them reach a mutually agreeable settlement.
Once the spouses arrive at an agreement that they both approve of, their proposed settlement agreement will be written down, signed and presented to the court for approval. An informal hearing will follow in which a family law judge will review the terms of the agreement, ask the spouses some questions to make sure that they understand terms of the proposed agreement, and will generally approve the settlement as long as it is not patently unfair to one party. After the court approves the settlement agreement it will be issued in a divorce decree that carries the full force of law.
Do You Need Legal Advice?
If you have questions about how divorce settlement agreements operate in Michigan, or questions about any other family law matter, contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins today. Our firm has extensive experience helping couples negotiate beneficial marital settlement agreements and have experienced firsthand how helpful these agreements can be. To schedule an initial consultation fill out our online contact form or call our office at (248) 646-7980.