Addressing All Aspects Of A Divorce In A Settlement Agreement
In a Divorce Settlement or Marital Settlement Agreement, it is best practice to address all issues related to the divorce. However, it is possible to defer certain issues for future determination.
Deferring Issues for Future Resolution
Consider a situation where the parties do not wish to resolve the issue of child support immediately or there’s a separate Family Court case pending. In such cases, the settlement agreement can indicate that these issues will be resolved in Family Court.
The deferral of property sale is another common instance. If the parties own a marital residence and are not ready to sell or execute a buyout immediately, they can agree to address this issue at a later stage, such as when the youngest child graduates from high school.
While such deferrals can be incorporated in the settlement agreement, it’s important that these matters are explicitly stated and not left unresolved.
Potential Problems with Unaddressed Issues
Leaving issues unaddressed in the agreement can lead to complications in the future. For instance, if a marital residence is owned and the settlement does not outline a plan for its future, the parties become legal strangers after divorce. Resolving the issue at that point could necessitate a property action, possibly involving a property attorney, and the outcome may not be guaranteed.
Therefore, the preferred practice is to address all conceivable issues in the divorce settlement agreement. If any issue cannot be decided at the moment, at least acknowledge this and specify that the issue will be deferred for future resolution or litigation. This approach ensures comprehensive coverage and minimizes future disputes.
The Necessity Of A Divorce Settlement Or Marital Settlement Agreement
While a divorce settlement or marital settlement agreement is not strictly required by law, it is highly recommended, especially when children, property, or assets are involved. That said, individual courts or Judges may nevertheless require a settlement agreement – even though the divorce statute does not strictly require one.
Why Is a Settlement Agreement Recommended?
While not obligatory, a settlement agreement is considered best practice for divorcing couples. It provides a clear, comprehensive, and legally binding roadmap for the division of assets and custody arrangements. Some courts or individual Judges/Referees mandate such agreements when children or property are involved. Before proceeding without one, you should verify the specific requirements of your local court.
Even when parties wish to waive division of assets and property, a divorce settlement agreement is still advised to explicitly record such a decision.
Self-Drafted Agreements and Court Forms
In certain situations, couples can utilize various forms available on the court’s website, such as maintenance worksheets, child support worksheets, and parenting plans. One should use extreme caution in using divorce agreements obtained off other websites, however. Such agreements may not be state-specific & thus may not be accepted by the court one submits it to. However, if you hire a lawyer, a proper settlement agreement should be drafted.
It’s crucial to ensure the attorney you hire is competent and experienced in divorce law. A poorly drafted agreement may fail to address necessary issues and can lead to complications. A typical divorce settlement agreement should range between 30 to 70 pages, depending on the complexity of the case. If an agreement is unusually short, such as less than 10 pages, it may be lacking important information.
Seeking A Second Opinion
If you are in doubt about the quality or sufficiency of your divorce settlement agreement, you should consider seeking a consultation with a reputable divorce attorney. If you’re investing in legal representation in the first place, it’s essential to ensure you’re receiving high-quality service and a thorough, comprehensive agreement.
For more information on Finalizing a Marital Settlement Agreement, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (914) 362-3080 today.