DIY Your Marital Settlement Agreement

The process of negotiating your marriage settlement agreement helps divorcing couples decide the terms of how their marriage will end. Divorce can be an emotionally draining experience requiring you to exhibit patience, flexibility, and a compromising attitude towards a person who may have hurt you. Your marriage settlement agreement may not be difficult to negotiate with your ex-spouse if you are parting on good terms, but this is not the case for many couples.

The Benefits of a Marital Settlement Agreement

Suppose you and your spouse are working together well during the divorce process. In that case, you may be interested in considering how you could benefit from negotiating your marital settlement agreement together outside law offices in a less formal environment. A marital settlement agreement outlines the financial and custodial details of your divorce. Negotiating the terms of your agreement and presenting it to your lawyer or filing it with the court can save time, money, and your relationship with your ex. If you and your former spouse plan to co-parent, then having a positive working relationship is valuable asset worth protecting.

7 Tips for Creating a Divorce Settlement Agreement

Working with your soon-to-be ex-spouse to create a mutually beneficial marital settlement agreement not only saves you time and money but can also help to keep the lines of communication open between both sides. Just because you and your future ex-spouse’s relationship didn’t work out doesn’t mean you need to finish off the relationship with bitter fights and arguments. Settlement agreements can become contentious if not entered into with the right attitude.

Sometimes, the very act of being on opposite sides in a formal office setting can raise the stakes. If you and your partner can negotiate an agreement in an informal setting and walk away with equitable settlements, that’s a win for everyone. Spouses willing to approach this chore with a spirit of cooperation can work together to present a unified agreement to the court for approval. We provide some steps below to get you started.

  1. Start with the Paperwork: Make sure you’re using the proper paperwork and forms stipulated by your state. If you have legal representation, your attorney can ensure you’re working with the correct documents. You need to make certain the paperwork is completed legibly and with the correct information.
  1. It’s All in the Details: Your paperwork should be free of any errors. You need to check and double-check dates, names, ages, and any other requested details.

Make sure to verify the accuracy of the following details:

  • Marriage Date
  • Separation Date
  • Name and Ages of Minor Children
  • Divorce Grounds
  • Living Arrangements and Addresses
  1. Agreement and Confirmation: You and your spouse will both need to show that you agree to the terms of the agreement. You also need to confirm that your divorce is uncontested and you’re working together to create the document. You will do this by adding your witnessed signatures to the marital settlement, so it becomes a legally binding contract.
  1. Asset and Debt Division: You will need to identify all assets and debts, and they will need to be divided accordingly. Assets and debts will be categorized as marital or separate. Unless otherwise documented, in a prenuptial agreement, assets accumulated before the marriage are separate, and those acquired afterward using joint funds would be marital.
  1. Custody and Visitation:If you have children, you’ll need to formulate the details of a timesharing agreement. You will need to decide what level of custody best fits your circumstance. The spectrum of child custody ranges anywhere from sole to shared custody. For many years, sole custody was the traditional option for most families with visitation for the other parent. Modern families are making custody agreements work for their situations.
  1. Child Support and Alimony: Neither parent can sign away a child’s right to support. If you don’t need the additional funds from child support payments, you could work on a college savings plan for the child or enrichment programs. Either way, child support payments are attached to the child, and state guidelines set minimum payment amounts.
  1. Doublecheck Your Work: Now that you’ve finished the document, you should check your work and ensure you’ve included all required information. You should read over your contract for errors like misspellings, missing names, or incorrect addresses. You may think a small typo is fine here or there, but you don’t want to risk there being an error on the document. A zero in the wrong place or a comma instead of a period can change the meaning of numbers and sentences. You want to make certain everything in the document is correct and intentional.

Once you and your partner have worked out your marital settlement's details, you should have it checked by your divorce attorney. Your attorney will review it to ensure the settlement protects your financial interest. Call us today at (760) 573-2223 to schedule a consultation.