The terms “dissolution of marriage” or “divorce” are frequently associated with combative, adversarial proceedings in a courtroom. For those couples who are looking for an alternative, a marital settlement agreement may be just the solution. This agreement can be entered into by the spouses to divide marital assets and debts, determine childcare arrangements and settle any other issue the couple wishes to include.
Advantages of a martial settlement agreement
Marital settlement agreements offer several advantages over the more widely known divorce proceedings in court.
- Cost savings: Because marital settlement agreements can be reached relatively quickly and are less complicated than protracted litigation, they are less expensive.
- Speed: Divorcing spouses have full control of the speed of the settlement negotiations and finalization and are not delayed by court backlogs.
- Flexibility: A settlement agreement is a binding contract that allows both parties to freely negotiate the issues to be included.
Such agreements are frequently negotiated through mediation between the parties. The parties then present the finalized agreement to the court.
Issues to be included in a marital settlement agreement
Spouses are free to include a variety of issues in their marital settlement agreement. As long as none of the provisions violate existing law or the agreement is not obtained by fraud, it will be considered a valid contract. Florida provides a form to divorcing couples for the filing of their settlement agreement. The form outlines the following issues for inclusion in the agreement:
- Assets: Cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, automobiles, businesses, pensions, etc.
- Liabilities: Mortgages, car loans, credit card debt, etc.
- Alimony matters
- Child support commitments
- Parenting plan
- Time-sharing arrangements
Although marital settlement agreements are typically less complicated than divorce litigation, there are still various issues, such as tax repercussions and estate planning concerns, that require legal advice. Consult a Florida marital settlement attorney to determine whether an agreement is the right option for you in your dissolution of marriage matter.