A Guide to Marital Settlement Agreements in Pennsylvania

Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman, LLC. – Philadelphia Divorce Lawyers

If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, a marital settlement agreement may be required to divide your assets and debts.Specifically, a marital settlement agreement will be the “roadmap” to  resolve, some or all, of the issues which arise during a divorce.  As marital settlement agreements cover important subjects such as property division, you should consult a Pennsylvania divorce attorney to draft your agreement. Also, if your spouse or your spouse’s lawyer sends you a Marital Settlement, or Property Settlement Agreement to review, do not sign it until you have a good family lawyer review it for you and provide you with comments.

What is a Marital Settlement Agreement in Pennsylvania?

A marital settlement agreement, also known as a property settlement agreement or divorce   agreement, is a legally-binding contract spouses enter into outlining their responsibilities and rights following their divorce.

Spouses can negotiate and enter into a marital settlement agreement prior to or during a divorce. A property settlement agreement is incorporated into a final divorce decree.

Elements Included in a Marital Settlement Agreement

For a marital settlement agreement to be legally-binding and enforceable, it must be supported by consideration, i.e., each spouse must exchange something of value.  Further, each spouse must enter into the marital settlement agreement voluntarily, i.e., coercion will void the agreement.  Finally, each spouse must be truthful when negotiating a settlement agreement as fraud or material representation will also void a marital settlement agreement.

The Importance of an MSA in Pennsylvania

A marital settlement agreement is important because it can allow you and your spouse to amicably resolve all the issues in your divorce without resorting to formal litigation.  This can save you money and can help finalize your divorce in an efficient manner.  Careful scrutiny should be used when considering a property settlement agreement as you may be able to obtain a more favorable outcome via litigation.

Before entering into a marital settlement agreement, you should retain a divorce attorney. A divorce lawyer can review the settlement agreement to ensure it is fair and negotiated in good faith.  Specifically, a divorce attorney can ensure your rights are protected with regards to the division of marital assets, child custody, and alimony. This is a critical document. It is a contract and once signed, cannot be changed in most cases. Most non-lawyers will simply not know what should or should not be in the Agreement. Signing it without the benefit of legal counsel is not wise. 

Why You Should Involve a Divorce Lawyer in Drafting Your MSA

The divorce attorneys at Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman have extensive legal training and experience in drafting and reviewing Marital Settlement Agreements. Our divorce attorneys can also ensure all the issues in your divorce are adequately addressed in the marital settlement agreement.  Finally, our attorneys can ensure that your financial and familial interests are protected. 

Is a Marital Settlement Agreement Required?

 If  you and your spouse have assets or debts to be divided, the Agreement will be prepared either by your lawyer or by the Court.   

Can a Marital Settlement Agreement Get Changed?

The general rule is once signed, these Agreements cannot be changed. However, Pennsylvania marital settlement agreements can be changed if both spouses consent. This is rare, however.  A Court will not modify certain terms such property division, alimony, and attorney’s fees unless the divorce agreement contains language permitting judicial intervention, which these Agreements rarely do.

Summary of Pennsylvania Marital Settlement Agreements

A divorce agreement is a required tool which can allow you to resolve your divorce in an amicable and cost effective matter. A marital settlement agreement is a contract. Your settlement agreement will be incorporated and merged into your divorce decree, so your rights are protected in the event one party to the Agreement does not abide by its terms.

Talk with an Experienced Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyer at SFS Attorneys

The experienced divorce attorneys at Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman have been handling divorces since 1981.  Our skilled attorneys know a favorable marital settlement agreement can help you move you past a difficult chapter in your life while also ensuring your future is protected.  To learn more about the service we can provide, contact us today.

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