Ann Fabrikant, Esq.NJ Divorce and Family Law Attorney
The purpose of a divorce settlement agreement, also known as a property settlement agreement or marital settlement agreement, is to memorialize (or to put into writing and confirm) any and all agreements reached between the two separating parties in the divorce. This includes child support, child custody, alimony, division of assets and any other agreed to issues.
Do You Need to Enter into a Settlement Agreement Before Filing for Divorce?
You can enter into one both before and after you file for divorce, even the morning of your divorce trial. However, the sooner you do, the better, and cheaper because you can avoid more attorney fees and costs.
Do You Need an Attorney to Prepare the Agreement?
It is highly recommended that an attorney does prepare it or at least review and revise it. If your spouse has hired one to do so, it is also advised that you get an attorney to look it over on your behalf as well. The reason behind this is because a lot of details and legal terms may be missing if you try to write one up yourself.
I Don’t Like My Spouse’s Settlement Proposal. What Do I Do?
For starters- DON’T SIGN IT. It’s called a proposal for a reason, it’s merely a rough draft. You don’t need to respond to it if you don’t want to. Hire an attorney to work on your behalf to protect your best interests and respond in a reasonable amount of time.
I DO Like My Spouse’s Settlement Proposal. Should I Just Sign?
Once again, it is in your best interests NOT to sign it quite yet. Even if it does look fair to you, it is best to have an attorney look at it to make sure that all your interests are covered properly in the settlement. Because once it is signed, there is no going back on it later- so better to be safe than sorry for this in the long run.
Can the Settlement Be Changed Down the Road?
Generally speaking, only certain terms can be changed, as it is a written agreement that legally binds the two of you to comply with the agreed upon terms. This is why working out all the details and kinks before signing is so important to do before you agree to anything. Settlement agreements CAN be changed when BOTH of you agree to said changes or a Court orders the changes.