When you are going through a divorce, you may suddenly be introduced to unfamiliar legal terms and documents. In Wisconsin, one instrument that is commonly used in divorce litigation is the Marital Settlement Agreement. If you have not heard of this device, you will want to know: What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?
When a couple divorces, specific issues will either be decided by a court or agreed upon by the parties. In many cases, the parties will opt to settle on their divorce terms rather than leaving decisions about their property, debt, and lives up to the court.
The settlement allows each side the freedom and flexibility to develop and agree to terms that conform to their unique circumstances. By contrast, when parties leave these choices up to the court, the terms will be limited to what is permitted under Wisconsin law.
The Marital Settlement Agreement is a legally binding document that includes the parties’ agreed-upon divorce terms. The agreement can include provisions regarding property division, spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, and child placement.
The terms and how they will be carried out should be carefully drafted and expressly stated. For instance, if you have a term that says you and your ex will have shared placement time with your kids, you will want to include supporting details about how your placement time schedule will operate throughout the year.
Likewise, if one party is getting the marital residence, but is jointly financed, you will need to include language regarding refinancing.
Make Sure Your Marital Agreement Terms are Clear
Using a Marital Settlement Agreement will be the way you memorialize your agreed-upon divorce terms with your ex. That being said, the document should be conscientiously drafted to make clear how the various terms will function.
When a term is ambiguous, parties may find themselves at odds over a critical issue. If the matter cannot be resolved, they may have to return to court for clarification or a post-divorce judgment modification. It’s important to note that, in general, outside of a few limited exceptions such as fraud, Wisconsin law does not allow for the modification of property settlement agreements after a divorce order has been entered.
Therefore, if the disputed term concerns the division of property, the court may not be able to make changes.
The best way to avoid having to return to the court regarding your Marital Settlement Agreement is by working with an experienced Wisconsin family law attorney. Your counsel can help you evaluate proposed terms and ensure that the agreement is properly drafted and structured in a manner that protects your interest.
Attorney and Mediator Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law has extensive experience helping clients understand their options regarding Wisconsin divorce and can help you evaluate your circumstances. Contact us today and let us take a “first look” at your situation.