If you and your spouse are able to resolve your differences out of court – whether through mediation, collaborative methods, or informal negotiations – the terms of your divorce will be established in a written document known as a Marital Settlement Agreement. Regardless of the simplicity or complexity of your divorce, it is imperative that your Marital Settlement Agreement be as thorough as possible. Even when both spouses made a mistake, it can often be difficult to modify the terms of a Marital Settlement Agreement once it has been approved by the court, and the last thing you want is to get into a dispute with your former spouse after thinking that your divorce is over.
So, what do you need to include in your Marital Settlement Agreement? While every divorce is different, some of the most common divorce settlement terms include the following:
1. Distribution of Marital Assets
Under Wisconsin’s community property law, most assets acquired during a marriage are subject to equal division in a divorce. Your Marital Settlement Agreement should include clear provisions for ownership of all community property assets, including:
- The family residence
- Retirement accounts and rights to retirement income
- Family-owned businesses
- Bank and investment accounts
- Personal property (including vehicles, furniture, and collectibles)
- Other real estate
2. Allocation of Joint Debts
Debts must be divided during the divorce process as well. While it will often make sense for the spouse who receives a particular asset (i.e. the family home) to also accept liability for the related debt (i.e. the mortgage), this is not always as straightforward as it sounds. Among other issues, even if spouses agree that one will take on sole responsibility for a joint debt, as a general rule, the joint creditor can still seek to collect from both spouses in the event of a default.
Common debts to be allocated in a divorce include:
- Car loans
- Credit card balances
- School loans
There are several factors divorcing spouses must consider when establishing maintenance (or “alimony”). Some of the key questions that must be answered in the Marital Settlement Agreement include:
- Which spouse will pay alimony?
- For how long?
- In what amount?
- When are payments due?
- What conditions (if any) can result in termination of maintenance?
4. Child-Related Matters
If you have children from your marriage, child-related issues will likely be among the most important and most-contested issues involved in your divorce. Your divorce settlement should include clear and comprehensive provisions covering matters such as:
- Physical placement
- Child support
- Additional child-related expenses
5. Legal Terms and Conditions
Finally, all Marital Settlement Agreements must include several legal provisions that are not directly related to the terms of the spouses’ settlement. You will want to work closely with your attorney to ensure that your agreement includes appropriate provisions regarding matters such as:
- Dispute resolution
- Governing law and jurisdiction
- Acknowledgements of legal representation
Disclaimer: This Article Is Not Legal Advice.
Never rely on an article for legal advice as the law frequently changes, information may not be accurate, there may be exceptions to a rule, and reliance may be detrimental. Always consult one of our experienced attorneys for competent, current, and accurate legal advice.
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If you would like more information about issues you will need to address during your divorce, we encourage you to schedule a confidential consultation. To speak with an experienced family law attorney at our offices in Wausau, WI, please call (715) 842-2291 or request an appointment online today.