The Divorce Settlement Agreement

What Is It? Do You Need One? What Should It Include?

The Divorce Settlement AgreementOften, divorce proceedings involve no real animosity; the parties recognize that their marriage isn’t working and that they’ve just grown apart. Maybe there are children or even a substantial marital estate involved, but both sides are able to amicably agree on custody and visitation, as well as the equitable distribution of assets and debts. As harmonious as such a divorce may be, a written divorce settlement agreement is still needed.

What Is a Divorce Settlement Agreement?

A divorce settlement agreement is a written document, signed by both parties, which sets forth in detail the terms of the parties’ agreement regarding custody and visitation, child support, alimony or spousal support, and the division of marital debts and assets. Though an oral agreement may technically be enforceable in court, there are proof problems inherent with oral agreements. The written settlement agreement becomes a binding contract, requiring that the parties comply with its terms. If one party fails to perform as specified, legal action can be taken.

There’s no requirement to have a settlement agreement in place before or at the time you separate. In fact, the final agreement typically comes late in the divorce process. The sooner you can come to agreement and put it in writing, the less acrimony and expense you’ll incur.

It’s usually in your best interests to have an attorney either negotiate the terms of the settlement agreement or at least review the provisions. An attorney will have a comprehensive understanding of the law and can ensure that the agreement is in your best interests. It’s also fairly common for the judge in a divorce proceeding to review the settlement agreement to ensure that it’s fair to both parties. If you can’t reach an amicable agreement with your spouse, the judge may decide to issue a ruling governing custody, support, and property distribution.

Once your settlement agreement is signed, it’s a legally enforceable document. You can make modifications to the agreement, but they must be mutual and should be done in writing.

Contact an Experienced New Jersey Family Law Attorney

At the law office of David M. Lipshutz, we won’t take your case unless we know we can help. For a private meeting, contact our office online or call us at 856-627-1990. We are available to meet with you Monday through Friday, between 9:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M.

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