What Your Marital Settlement Should Contain
Marital settlement agreements are negotiated contracts that contain the terms of a couple’s divorce. As legally enforceable contracts, these agreements play a critical role in a couple’s post-divorce lives, including how their assets will be divided and whether one party is entitled to alimony. Mistakes or a failure to address an important issue can have serious repercussions for divorcing couples, so if you and your spouse are thinking about legally ending your marriage and you have questions about negotiating a marital settlement agreement, you should contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer who can advise you throughout the process.
Distribution of Assets and Liabilities
Marital settlement agreements should cover a wide range of issues and topics, including how assets and liabilities will be divided between the parties in question. This process requires a number of steps, including creating a clear and comprehensive list of the following types of assets:
- Real estate;
- Bank accounts;
- Retirement accounts;
- Insurance policies;
- Investment accounts;
- Business interests;
- Furniture; and
- Jewelry and artwork.
It is also equally important to list all of the debts incurred after the couple’s marriage, including:
- Mortgage debt;
- Student loans;
- Credit card debts;
- Personal loans; and
- Car loans.
Each of these assets and liabilities will eventually be assigned to one of the parties, which can only be accomplished in a fair manner if the value of the assets and debts is also determined and included in the agreement. Even after assignment, a couple’s work will not be finished, as they will still need to note whether any assets will be sold. If, for example, a couple agree to sell a home and share the proceeds equally, they should be sure to include specific details about the sale in the marital settlement agreement, including which realtor will be used, who will pay for the home’s upkeep until the sale is finalized, the timeline of the sale, and how the proceeds will be divided. Unfortunately, these items are often overlooked, which can cause legal trouble down the road.
Alimony, or spousal maintenance, is also a critical part of any marital settlement agreement, with couples having the option of waiving a right to alimony or setting the terms of the alimony payments themselves. After receiving financial affidavits from each other, divorcing couples will be tasked with including the amount and duration of payments in their agreement, in addition to details about the events that will trigger termination of the payments and whether the agreement is modifiable at a later date.
Couples with children are also required to address child support in their marital settlement agreements. Fortunately, this is often a relatively simple process, as Florida law requires the use of a specific formula in determining the proper amount of payments. These guidelines take into account the couple’s incomes and expenses, as well as any unique economic needs of the children. Visitation and custody-related matters, on the other hand, will be discussed in a separate document known as a parenting plan.
Do You Need Help Drafting a Marital Settlement Agreement?
Speaking to an attorney at our Fort Lauderdale office is free of charge. Please contact dedicated divorce lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with our team today.