June 2, 2016 | Share
What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?
In Texas, there are two ways to establish the terms of a divorce: (i) by going to court, and (ii) by entering into a martial settlement agreement.
Spouses who are unable to resolve their differences with regard to property division, financial support and other matters will need to go to court and present their respective positions to a judge. After listening to both spouse’s arguments, the judge will then issue an order establishing the terms of their divorce.
This leaves the outcome of the divorce open to question; and, in many cases, the outcome will not fully satisfy either spouse’s needs or expectations. However, this is the nature of an adversarial divorce, and it reflects the inherent limitations of relying on a third-party decision-maker instead of working to achieve an amicable resolution.
Due to the risks, time commitment, and expense involved in adversarial divorces, many couples – even those who seem to be completely at odds – choose instead to settle their divorces out of court.
In Texas, separating couples can finalize all of the legal aspects of their divorce in what is known as a “marital settlement agreement.” Once the court approves a marital settlement agreement (which is usually a straightforward process), the terms of the agreement become the final binding order establishing the terms of the divorce.
Marital Settlement Agreements – Key Terms
In a typical divorce, there are several issues to be resolved. The primary issues we have discussed at length previously, including:
- Division of marital and separate property
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Child support
- Child custody (called “conservatorship” in Texas) and visitation
However, there are a number of other issues to be addressed as well. While these issues may ultimately fall under the primary areas listed above, they require careful consideration both independently and in conjunction with the other aspects of your divorce settlement:
- Division of debts
- Payment of health insurance premiums
- Splitting retirement accounts and pensions
- Who gets to keep the family home
- Tax-related issues
A comprehensive marital settlement agreement will cover all of these topics and more in order to provide a solid foundation for each spouse to begin his or her separate life after the divorce.
Marital Settlement Agreements – Methods for Resolving Differences Out of Court
If this sounds like a lot to try to agree upon with your soon-to-be former spouse, you’re right. Getting divorced is a process, and it requires effort, commitment and a focus on doing what is best for your long-term needs.
If you are concerned that you and your spouse will not be able to come to terms, there are several options available that have proven to be successful in helping divorcing spouses avoid resorting to litigating their differences in court:
- Negotiation – With the help of your respective attorneys, you and your spouse may be able to negotiate an amicable resolution to your divorce.
- Mediation – In mediation, spouses and their attorneys work with a neutral third-party mediator who helps them come to terms without making decisions on their behalf.
- Collaborative Law – In a collaborative law divorce, the spouses commit to resolving their differences amicably without going to court.
Speak with a Divorce Lawyer at Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC
If you would like more information about using a marital settlement agreement to resolve your divorce, feel free to contact us for a complimentary consultation. To speak with one of our McKinney divorce lawyers in confidence, call (214) 726-1450 or submit a request online today.
Categories: Family Law & Divorce