A divorce Settlement Agreement is a document in which the particulars of a divorce are written out in detail. Settlement agreements are often called Separation Agreements, Marital Settlement Agreements, or many other titles. Regardless of what it is called, the purpose is simple. In essence, stating the exact terms and conditions agreed upon for the divorce. This includes child custody, child support, spousal support (or spousal maintenance), and the division of property.


Steps to a Divorce divorce settlement agreementSettlement Agreement

The process of a settlement agreement is taken on by the spouses, their attorneys, a mediator if necessary, and a judge. The settlement agreement is the written document in which all of the concerns are laid out in detail. Once the document has been written and approved by attorneys from both sides, the settlement agreement is brought to a judge in the district in which the couple is divorcing. Following this, an informal hearing is held, during which the judge will either approve or disapprove the settlement agreement.


Court Approval of a Settlement Agreement

The divorce is officially “final” once the settlement agreement is approved by the court. Each spouse receives documents detailing the agreement, including, but not limited to property division, child custody, child support, spousal support.


Do I Need An Attorney for a Settlement Agreement?

You do not need an attorney for a settlement agreement, but it is highly recommended that you do hire an attorney to prepare your settlement agreement. If your agreement is prepared by your spouse’s attorney, you should have your attorney review and approve the proposed settlement agreement before you sign it.


divorce settlement agreementSettling Outside of Court

It is possible – and likely – that you can settle outside of court. In these cases, a mediator or an attorney can draw up the official settlement agreement document, outlining the issues and concerns that were agreed upon. Having an attorney draw up the settlement agreement makes it legal in that it contains all of the required and necessary aspects. It is then submitted to a judge, and once approved, incorporated into the divorce decree.


Can I Reject My Spouse’s Proposed Settlement Agreement?

You are not obligated to sign your spouse’s proposed settlement agreement if you disagree with it or feel pressured. It is merely a proposal, and a starting point in negotiations. However, it is in your best interests to participate in the negotiations, so that compromises and agreements can be made. Refusing to sign a proposed settlement agreement without following up with attempts to come to a compromise may complicate – and lengthen – the entire process.


divorce settlement agreementCan I Write My Own Settlement Agreement?

It is a bad idea to write your own settlement agreement, even if you and your spouse agree with the details. An attorney will be able to ensure that all legal provisions are discussed and documented clearly. It can complicate matters if a legal provision is unclear, and you and your spouse disagree on it later on. This also goes for signing without an attorney looking over the document.


Modifying a Divorce Settlement Agreement

After a divorce settlement is signed, it is possible to modify a divorce settlement agreement. There are specific circumstances in which this is possible. If both parties agree to revisit the issue, provisions for property, debt, other financial concerns can be modified. Child support, child custody, and visitation agreements can be changed if there is a significant change in circumstances. These changes must prove to be in the best interests of the child. Alimony provisions can also be modified, depending on the wording of the divorce settlement agreement.