If properly drafted, the parties to a divorce can enter into a written agreement regarding the matters in dispute. The Agreement must be worded correctly and the parties must enter into the Agreement with a full understanding of all of the matters related to the Agreement. If you sign an Agreement without doing it properly, it may not be enforceable. Also, it may not say what you think it says. You should never sign an Agreement related to important divorce or paternity matters without first consulting an attorney.
All matters related to the divorce must be addressed in the Agreement; otherwise, rights and responsibilities may be waived. These matters might include:
- Identifying any property interest that is non-marital;
- Valuing all marital property;
- Dividing all marital property interests between the parties;
- Identifying any non-marital debts;
- Dividing all marital debts between the parties.
- Determining how the debts are to be paid;
- Specifying the date property is to be valued;
- Providing for what happens (remedies) in the event a party does not fulfill his or her obligations under the Agreement;
- If a home or other real property is to be sold, specifying how that will happen, how the expenses of the home/property will be paid until sale, what the sales price will be, what the parties will do if the property does not sell during the agreed time period, how the proceeds of sale will be divided between the parties, what happens if there are no sales proceeds, and the like;
- Creating a Parenting Plan that delineates each parent's rights and responsibilities with regard to decision-making and timesharing with the child;
- Determining net income for each parent for the purpose of calculating child support;
- Determining which parent will pay daycare or after-school care expenses of the minor child and what the cost will be for the purpose of calculating child support;
- Determining which parent will provide medical, dental, and/or vision insurance for the child and what the cost will be for the purpose of calculating child support;
- Determining how medical, dental, vision, orthodontic and prescription drug expenses for the child will be paid if not covered by insurance;
- Deciding how the federal income tax exemption and other potential tax benefits for the child will be shared by the parents;
- Agreeing on the type, amount and duration of any spousal support payments, taking into account the tax ramifications; and
- Whether or not a party will assist the other party with the costs and legal fees incurred in preparing a written Agreement and obtaining the Court's approval of the Agreement.
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