Marital Settlement Agreements

A marital settlement agreement in a Florida divorce case encompasses all of the terms and/or conditions of the parties divorce settlement. These terms include the equitable distribution of the marital debts and assets, the support obligations of the parties, and other miscellaneous factors which the parties may agree to. Typically any conditions regarding the parental responsibility and timesharing schedule (what used to be referred to as “custody”) of the parties’ minor children are not contained in the Marital Settlement Agreement, but rather are found in the parties parenting plan. The parenting plan is however, attached as an exhibit and will be referenced in the marital settlement agreement.

The marital settlement agreement provides the parties with a vehicle to reach an amicable settlement in lieu of further litigation. Often times, a marital settlement agreement is reached at mediation, where the parties, along with their Florida divorce attorneys, work together in order to draft the marital settlement agreement incorporating each of the respective terms and conditions. Once the parties have reached, memorialized, and entered into the marital settlement agreement the divorce has settled and the parties only await a Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage by the court. In the event the parties are unable to come to terms on the conditions of the marital settlement agreement, then further litigation will ensue and the divorce case will likely move toward a contested final hearing where the court will decide and adjudicate the rights of the parties.

It is important for a party in a Florida divorce to understand the impact the marital settlement agreement will have and the binding effect on the parties. A marital settlement agreement is a contract and once entered into by the parties, its terms and conditions becoming binding and are subject to the enforcement powers of the court. In the event a party does not comply with the conditions of this contract they may subject themselves to the court’s enforcement powers, including the court’s power to compel compliance of the conditions, and the court’s power to sanction them for contempt. Because of the immediate and future impact the terms and conditions of the marital settlement will have on the parties it is imperative that your Florida divorce attorney is skilled in the areas of not only negotiating but drafting the marital settlement agreement.

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