A Marital Settlement Agreement is the document that outlines the entire agreement between yourself and your spouse at the end of your divorce. It is vital that this Agreement is detailed and includes everything that it should. If you or your spouse does not abide by the Agreement following your divorce, you will file a motion with the Court to enforce the Agreement. If you have a detailed Agreement, it helps the Court to grant you the relief you are entitled to.
Here are 5 things you should be sure are included in your Marital Settlement Agreement when negotiating a divorce settlement with your spouse:
- A detailed parenting time schedule – including holidays!
Many times when negotiating a settlement, a client will tell me that they don’t want a detailed parenting time plan because they “are sure they can be reasonable and work together.” I always caution clients against this. Simply because it is an amicable divorce or you are getting along currently does not mean that this will always be the case. Parenting time disputes are extremely common, even in matters that incorporated a detailed schedule. It’s in your best interest, and more importantly in the best interest of the children, that you have a detailed schedule in an attempt to avoid issues down the road. This also includes a detailed holiday schedule so there’s never a question of fairness or who has the children on a particular holiday.
- Specifics about support
In many cases, there are both alimony and child support being exchanged by the parties. It is important to have details in these provisions so everyone is aware of what their obligations are. You should include information about what your current incomes are and what incomes were used to calculate support. In terms of alimony, you should be sure to include the amount of alimony being paid each month, the date it is being paid, and how long it is going to be paid in the event that it is a limited term obligation. You should also outline the reasons why alimony will terminate, such as the death of either party or the remarriage of the spouse receiving support.
- Life Insurance
If you or your spouse will be paying child support or alimony, be sure to include a provision requiring that the spouse paying support maintains life insurance in an amount sufficient to secure his or her obligation. The policy should name the other spouse as the beneficiary to secure your alimony and/or child support. This will protect you and ensure that you will continue to receive money to help support the children and/or yourself in the event that your spouse passes after your divorce.
- Retirement accounts and how they will be divided
Be sure that you list all of the retirement assets owned by the parties. Detail how the assets will be divided or who will keep a particular asset. Many retirement accounts, such as a 401k and pension will require a Qualified Domestic Relation Order (“QDRO”) to authorize the division of the account. Include a provision about who will be completing the QDRO and who is responsible for the cost of the preparation. If you are dividing an IRA, it is possible to do so by way of rollover. You should specify a time frame for this to occur.
- A plan for the sale of the house
In some cases, the marital home may be sold after the divorce is final. It may be that one party has since moved out. In order to ensure that the process moves smoothly, you should include details about the sale of the home. For example, you might say that it is to be listed within thirty (30) days of the divorce and remain on the market until it sells. Some people get even more detailed and specify what offers must be accepted. If your spouse is retaining the marital residence in a buy-out, they most likely will need to refinance the home. Include a time frame for this to occur and specify what type of deed will be exchanged.
If you have questions about how to negotiate a divorce settlement with your spouse, contact the attorneys of DeTorres & DeGeorge at 908–284–6005 to schedule a consultation.