What is a Divorce Settlement Agreement?

When a married couple decides that their relationship is no longer working or salvageable, and that they would both be better off going their separate ways, they typically file for divorce. A divorce is a legal decree terminating a marriage.

Every state in the U.S. now allows "no-fault" divorce proceedings. This allows the couple to divorce for little or no reason, typically citing "irreconcilable differences," without elaborating further. Historically, a divorce would only be granted under limited circumstances, such as adultery, abuse, neglect, abandonment, etc.

However, although terminating a marriage is relatively easy, there are many other issues that are associated with divorce, and are much more complicated than the comparatively simple matter of terminating a marriage.

Issues such as child custody and distribution of property acquired during marriage can become very contentious.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is, by far, the simplest way to go. Of course, whether or not it is possible depends largely on the willingness of the spouses to compromise. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree amongst themselves (probably with the help of their respective lawyers) on how to handle child custody and/or support, as well as how to distribute property that was accumulated during the marriage. This is, by far, the easiest way to go. And you should make a good-faith effort to come to an agreement, without involving the courts.

Sometimes, the court will appoint, or the spouses will bring in, a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who can serve as a go-between for the spouses. They can help keep negotiations on track, and prevent the emotions of the spouses from clouding their judgment. The mediator cannot make a binding decision for the spouses, but they can, and often do, suggest arrangements that both spouses can agree to, and neither of them would have thought of on their own.

However, when the parties cannot reach an agreement on these issues, they have to take it to court, for a judge to decide for them. All states have laws governing how marital property is to be distributed at divorce, but they vary widely. Typically, in constructing a divorce settlement, a court is required to consider the lifestyle that the spouses have become accustomed to, as well as what one or both of the spouses gave up to make the marriage work (for example, if one spouse quit his or her job to stay home and take care of the children, giving up a lucrative career, this will be taken into account).

Find a Lawyer for your Divorce Settlement Agreement

If you are going through a divorce, chances are good that you have a lot on your mind, and dealing with the associated legal and financial issues is probably the last thing you want to do. If you have a good divorce lawyer, they can help handle these issues, as well as help negotiate a good settlement. And LegalMatch can help you find a good divorce lawyer, who can craft a resonable and acceptable divorce settlement agreement that all parties can live with and work to ensure that this inherently unpleasant process is as painless as it can possibly be.