A Guide to Marital Settlement Agreements in Mediation

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange-County-divorce-mediators; California Divorce MediatorsMarital settlement agreement is a contract signed by both parties, agreeing on the terms and conditions decided by them during the divorce mediation process. The contract is then made part of the dissolution of marriage order and has the same impact as a judge would have if he or she had decided on who gets what in court.

If the contract is just, both divorcing parties will be content with what they agreed upon during the mediation sessions. However, in the case of a family court, the judge may view the agreement to make a ruling on the fairness of the agreement drawn up.

Normally, the agreement is final, which is a relief for both parties, as the conflicts were put to rest during the divorce mediation sessions. In some cases, the partners may require the assistance of a lawyer if the combined assets are high in value or if minor children are involved. If you’re not facing any such issue, you won’t need a lawyer to assist you negotiate the terms and conditions of the contract and through divorce mediation, you’ll be able to take care of all the major aspects of the divorce.

What Does a Marital Settlement Agreement Contain?

Marital settlement agreement contains important categories that will have a profound effect on your life after the divorce is finalized. The divorce mediator will go over one category at a time during the several sessions that you will have with him or her.

The discussion will be about various issues that need to be sorted out before anything is signed. Some of the issues that are discussed include the division of property, division of debts, alimony, visitation rights, child support, and child custody.

These issues during a litigation proceedings can take days to decide, but not during divorce mediation sessions. The reason for this is that both parties enter the mediation session with a cool head and on the basis of creating an understanding between the two instead of adding more fire to the fuel. Here is a list of issues discussed in the meetings:

  • Minor Children– Who gets the children, visitations days and time, and other issues are discussed.
  • Alimony– This depends on the laws of the state you filed for divorce in.
  • Division of Assets– Personal property such as money, stocks, bank accounts, bonds, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, furniture, clothing, cars, and other assets are discussed. Next, on the list to be discussed is real property such as the house or any stores that you own.
  • Debts– Both of your debts will be discussed in detail, and then will be divided amongst the both of you. However, the debt must be applicable to you and if you were responsible for it, you should take ownership for it to minimize conflict.

After all of these points are covered in detail, the partners will decide what they want to do and draft the marital settlement agreement.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, “What is Divorce Mediation.”