What is a Marital Settlement Agreement, and What Does it Include?
Most television shows and movies would have you believe that divorce cases always involve a courtroom trial. In reality, divorce cases rarely make it to trial. It is certainly possible that a divorce case is resolved through a trial, but much more often, the spouses are able to negotiate a settlement.
Sometimes, the spouses are able to reach a settlement through mediation or by simply discussing the relevant divorce issues. In contested cases, a settlement is often reached through the spouses’ respective attorneys. The end result of a successful settlement negotiation is a Marital Settlement Agreement outlining the determinations regarding property division, child support, spousal support and child custody.
Marital Settlement Agreements in Illinois
Reaching a settlement is highly preferred over going to trial. Divorce trials are expensive, stressful, and public. Most people want to avoid divulging personal or financial information to the general public. Furthermore, by their very nature, trials are adversarial. This can be especially problematic if the divorcing spouses share children and will need to continue being involved in each other 's lives. Negotiating a settlement during a divorce case is not easy, but with the right legal support, it is possible in most cases.
The issues you will need to decide to reach a settlement will depend on your specific circumstances. Each Marital Settlement Agreement is different, but most contain the following elements:
- Recitals - The Marital Settlement Agreement usually states basic facts, including when the couple was married, when the couple agreed to the settlement, and how many children the couple has together.
- Property and debt division – The agreement contains directions for how the spouses will divide their marital assets and debts. This includes ownership of the marital home, bank accounts, vehicles, debts, and more.
- Parental responsibilities and parenting time - The Marital Settlement Agreement will include information about how parental responsibilities, or decision-making authority, is allocated to the parties. This includes information about how major decisions regarding the child's education, health care, and other major concerns will be handled by the divorcing sposues. The agreement will also describe the allocation of parenting time.
- Child support obligation - The Marital Settlement Agreement will contain information about how much child support is owed and who will be responsible for paying child support.
- Spousal maintenance - If the spouses have agreed upon a spousal maintenance or alimony arrangement, the Marital Settlement Agreement will describe the terms of alimony.
After the spouses have agreed on the relevant issues and created the Marital Settlement Agreement, the court will review the agreement and either approve or reject it. The court will only reject the agreement if it is unconscionable, meaning it is extremely unfair towards one party, or if there are other significant issues.
Once the judge approves the Marital Settlement Agreement, the information from the agreement is incorporated into the Judgment of Dissolution, making the agreement a legally binding court order.
Contact our Kane County Marital Settlement Agreement Lawyers
If you wish to avoid a divorce trial and resolve your divorce through a settlement, our St. Charles divorce attorneys can help. Call MKFM law at 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation.