What Is a Divorce Settlement Agreement

What Is a Divorce Settlement Agreement?

A divorce settlement agreement is a important part of your divorce. Take into account its details thoroughly.

A divorce settlement agreement is written paperwork that goes by several names, subject to your location. They are referred to as the below:

  • Separation Agreement or Separation and Property Settlement Agreement
  • Custody, Support, and Property Agreement
  • Mediated Separation Agreement
  • Collaborative Settlement Agreement
  • Property Settlement Agreement
  • Marital Settlement Agreement

What you should call it really doesn’t matter. Its purpose is to recognize any agreements come to between divorcing and/or separating spouses concerning child custody and/or support, spousal maintenance, and property division.

Do We Need to Enter Into an Agreement Prior to Us Separating?

Positively not. You can enter into a divorce settlement agreement in advance or after you separate or file for divorce. Nevertheless, you might not be able to come to an agreement until the morning of your trial. However, the faster you can settle your divorce the better, in particular if the goal is to avoid unneeded turmoil and attorney expenses.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Prepare My Divorce Agreement?

It’s extremely recommended that you hire a lawyer to devise your Divorce Agreement. Or, if your soon to be ex’s lawyer has already devised it, it is advised that you hire an attorney to examine it (on your behalf) and assure important legal stipulations are added, deleted, or modified in order to safeguard your rights.

Terminology like “sole legal custody,” “exclusive possession,” “timely indemnify and hold harmless,” and “relinquish and waive all future claims” in fact have very important explanations. You are not a lawyer, so you might miss serious issues concerning the proposed agreement or might not know what particular words need to be included to safeguard your interests. If you fail to come across something, you might end up relinquishing important rights. The best thing you can do is to pay someone at the start, so you don’t end up paying even more in the end.

What If Everything is Settled Before Going to Court?

When you settle your disagreements ahead of taking your case to court, a lawyer or mediator can draw up your agreement. After you sign it, the Divorce Agreement turns into a binding contract, meaning both spouses are obligated to adhere to its conditions.

Subject to the state you live in laws, the agreement may be presented to a judge that can make certain the conditions are impartial. It is then going to be included into your final divorce decree and becomes an irrevocable court order; if either of you breach the order in the future, you could then be held in contempt of a court.

If you and your spouse are unable to agree, you are going to likely end up going to court, where you’ll present your case to a judge and ask them to decide all matters of your divorce for the both of you. Because this process is unforeseeable, and typically very high-priced, coming to an agreement outside of court is the ideal way to go.

What If I Don’t Like My Spouse’s Proposed Divorce Agreement?

Go over it very carefully before you sign it. Take note, it’s only a proposal – an initial point in the negotiations. Even when your spouse (or their attorney) issued you a deadline to respond, you aren’t obligated to do anything. You can tear up their proposal if you want to. No one can pressure you to settle until you want to.

Nevertheless, you don’t want to wait too long. If you turn down negotiating in honest intentions, or you don’t want to sign anything because you want to keep draining your spouse’s generosity for as long as you can, your spouse is going to get frustrated, and may quit the settlement negotiations completely. If you really wish for a settlement, you need to be agreeable to move forward and meet halfway.

As mentioned before, it’s a good idea to ask an attorney to go over your spouse’s proposed settlement agreement. If you’re dissatisfied with it, an attorney can help you understand how widely differing you are and hammer out a better deal for you.

When I Like My Spouse’s Proposed Settlement Agreement, Shouldn’t I Just Sign It?

Positively not. Even when you are totally ready to progress forward with their settlement, when your spouse’s attorney prepared the initial draft, it’s very important that you in any event have the agreement examined by your own attorney – an individual that is actively protecting your interests. You need to do this regardless of how much pressure is placed on you to sign and regardless of how much you want to “keep it simple” outside of “getting all the lawyers involved.”

It’s essential to take note that your spouse’s attorney is not a representative of you and has no care in the world whether the agreement is just or offers you satisfactory financial resources.

If We Both Agree, Can We Create an Agreement on Our Own?

This is usually a mistake. It’s very probable, the agreement is not going to be specific concerning your state’s laws and could miss important legal conditions. It could be indistinct or unclear. And when, you and your ex disagree on a condition down the road, you could end up spending more money on attorney’s fees, trying to modify or resolve the agreement. It’s most likely worth several hours of an attorney’s time to get a satisfactory agreement in place.

If We Agree on Everything, Can’t We Just Hire One Attorney to Create Our Agreement?

You could do that, but it’s probably a bad idea. First off, one attorney is unable to represent both of the spouses. Therefore, if you continue without an attorney, you’re not going to have anyone looking out for you. If your spouse continues without an attorney, they may be later able to claim that the agreement is one-sided, or that they were unaware of what they were signing given that they didn’t have an attorney representing them.

If you both truly agree on every issue concerning your divorce, the best thing to do is to participate in divorce mediation, a process that involves an unbiased, 3rd party mediator. They work with both spouses to help them create and complete an agreement. Oftentimes, the mediator is going to draft the Divorce Agreement, and the spouses can ask their own reviewing attorneys to go over it again.

What If We Both Agree to Not to Follow the Divorce Agreement That Was Signed?

The sky won’t fall down, and you won’t be put in jail. For instance, if you both decide to adhere to a different alimony payment arrangement, that’s completely your decision. But be totally clear. If you choose to do anything other than what you agreed upon in writing, and then have a rift with your ex, you both have the right to enforce the conditions of the initial Agreement.

If you both agree to alter some of the more significant conditions of the original Divorce Agreement, you need to make it official by changing the initial agreement in writing.

Can We Change The Agreement?

Positively. Conditions concerning property, debts, and just about all other financial issues are usually thought to be cut in stone, unless you are both in agreement to a change. If that is the case, you can enter into a “Modification Agreement,” recording the agreed-upon changes. This altered Divorce Agreement needs to then be included into a new court order.

Child support, custody, and visitation agreements are changeable providing you can demonstrate a considerable change in circumstances occurring following the entry of the initial order, and/or that a newer arrangement is in the child’s best interests.

Spousal maintenance terms may or may not be changeable, subject to the terminology of your initial Divorce Agreement. Make sure the provisions of your initial agreement are completely clear concerning if any spousal support obligation will be changeable, or non- changeable.


  1. What is a divorce settlement agreement? | divorcenet. (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2022, from https://www.divorcenet.com/states/nationwide/what_is_a_settlement_agreement

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Moshier Law services all of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. Jennifer and her team of professionals seek to resolve Family Law cases efficiently with your goals in mind.

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Divorce and Family Law

When a case demands litigation, you’ll have the benefit of 19 years of litigation experience in California and Arizona. But when a case demands collaborative law, or mediation, we can meaningfully describe why collaborative law or mediation may or may not be your best option.

Moshier Law services all of Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona. Jennifer and her team of professionals seek to resolve Family Law cases efficiently with your goals in mind.

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