Marital Settlement Agreement Lawyers in NJ
Matrimonial Lawyers Protecting Your Interests with Marital Settlement Agreements in Essex County, Bergen County, and Passaic County
Anyone who plans on getting divorced in New Jersey will be required to have a Marital Settlement Agreement. This complex agreement will thereafter become part of the Judgement of Divorce and will guide the newly divorced couple in how they must comply with its terms in the future. Marital Settlement Agreements (MSA) can be complicated and deal with significant legal and financial issues. As such, an experienced matrimonial lawyer will play a key role in making sure that your needs are met, and your intentions carried out. It is important to choose a New Jersey attorney who is well-versed in family law to properly advise you on what to consider when drafting such agreements and precisely how the agreement impacts your future.
At The Montanari Law Group, LLC, with local offices in Little Falls, our experienced divorce lawyers have successfully negotiated, prepared, and properly filed marital settlement agreements on behalf of countless clients in New Jersey. If you have questions or need assistance with a divorce case in Jersey City, Bergenfield, Union City, Wayne, Prospect Park, Ridgewood, or elsewhere in North New Jersey, please feel free to contact us for a free consultation. Our team is prepared to advise and advocate for you every step of the way, ensuring you feel at ease and confident that your case is in knowledgeable, dedicated, and highly competent hands. Call today at 973-233-4396 to discuss your situation and see how our experience can help protect you during and after a divorce.
Purpose and Process for New Jersey Marital Settlement Agreements (MSA)
A Marital Settlement Agreement (also referred to as Property Settlement Agreement) is a legally binding document that outlines the terms of your divorce. The idea behind the agreement is that each spouse is able to control what happens to their property, assets, debts, and custodial issues by incorporating the terms therein. If no agreement can be reached, the divorcing couple has the right to have a trial on the issues, and the judge will decide the outcome. Surprisingly, it can take years to have a trial, and the time in-between can be both emotionally and financially taxing. Rather than waiting for someone else to decide their fate, couples are directed to try to reach a resolution on their own.
The agreement is initiated by the parties’ respective lawyers, who draft the document with their clients’ interests in mind. The agreement is then exchanged, and the terms or phrases often changed, revised, or reworked. Once the terms are finalized, you must review the agreement and each section with your lawyer to make sure that you fully understand the terms. Upon completion, both spouses sign the document, and it becomes part of the divorce. The terms of the MSA will forever guide the parties on what they must do, provided it is not legally changed in the future.
Difference between Marital Settlement Agreement and Separation Agreement in New Jersey
As an aside, it must be understood that the while an MSA is similar to a Separation Agreement, they are not identical. A Separation Agreement is not final and is designed to assist the party while the divorce is pending or simply contemplated. The Separation Agreement can address things like temporary support, freezing assets, and temporary custodial issues. Additionally, such agreements are not final and not filed with the court. Issues only become finalized through an MSA or decision issued after a trial. Therefore, the terms and topics included in the MSA must be carefully considered and not agreed to in haste.
Including All Important Information in the MSA Before Signing Your Agreement
Think about all of the things that you and your spouse have been through during your marriage. Perhaps you worked, bought a car and a house, had children, accumulated debt, contributed to 401ks or pensions, or saved money and invested. All of these things must be addressed in an MSA.
Before an agreement is made, you and your spouse will exchange information such as interrogatories, case information statements, bank statements, investment statements, medical records, and tax returns. Full disclosure on all marital assets and debts is also required to assist in making an educating decision concerning equitable distribution and support. Some important questions to consider before making any agreement are as follows:
- How will the debt be paid?
- Will the home be sold, when, and how will the equity be distributed?
- Will there be a need for spousal support?
- How will the pensions or 401k be divided?
- Who will have custody of the children, and what will the parenting time plan or child support be? Where will they attend school?
- Are you responsible for your own student loans?
- How will the personal property be divided?
- What happens to the credit card debt?
- Will the other person be responsible if they accumulated debt that I am unaware of?
- Who pays for college, and if so, how much?
- Can I change my mind?
Generally, the questions above fall into categories such as spousal support, child custody, and equitable distribution. The terms and nuances of individual agreements will be legally binding once signed and the judgment of divorce entered by the judge.
Is it Possible to Make Changes to an MSA Once it is Signed?
The terms of an MSA will not be changed unless agreed by both parties in writing or the court deems a provision unenforceable via a post-judgment motion. This is why it is important to ask your divorce lawyer as many questions as possible before it is finalized and to provide as much information as possible.
What Happens if You Need to Enforce a Marital Settlement Agreement in NJ
The agreement once signed and agreed to, will, in fact, be enforced by the court upon divorce. If either side fails to abide by the terms of the agreement, the party seeking to enforce the terms can file a post-judgment motion to enforce the agreement, known as a motion to enforce the litigant’s rights. The defaulting party can be responsible for your lawyer’s fees and costs if the judge finds that the other party did not follow the agreement. For these reasons, it is important that you take great care in assembling, assessing, and considering all of the relevant factors before entering into an MSA.
Filing Your MSA in an Uncontested Divorce
An MSA can be the best way to control what happens to you post-divorce. In fact, in many instances, it is helpful for people to consider the issues before filing for divorce, as an MSA can be filed with the divorce complaint, thus making the divorce uncontested. You can negotiate the terms of your divorce before you ever file the complaint for divorce. The terms would be reflected in the MSA, which is artfully drafted by your lawyer. Once you and your spouse have the opportunity to review the agreement and sign, your lawyer can file it together with the complaint for divorce and ask that the court enter a judgment. This is considered an “uncontested divorce.”
An uncontested divorce can save you time, money, and the strain of a lengthy contested divorce. At The Montanari Law Group, our seasoned divorce lawyers have drafted many MSAs for clients who would rather resolve the issues before filing for divorce.
Seek Knowledgeable Representation for Your Marital Settlement Agreement in Hudson County NJ
Our divorce lawyers at The Montanari Law Group, LLC understand that it can feel as though life as you know it is coming to an end. You may not be immediately attuned to all of the significant issues to be addressed in your divorce process due to the emotional turmoil you feel. For this reason, we tirelessly look out for your interests and advise as to what you are entitled to and what your responsibilities are. By collecting all of the information from you and your spouse, we are able to serve as champions for you, ensuring that you are not being lulled into signing an unfavorable agreement that can drastically alter the course of your future.
Do not forego legal guidance and assistance with your marital settlement in New Jersey. Protect yourself by calling an experienced divorce lawyer who will leave no stone unturned in your case. Call 973-233-4396 now if you would like a free consultation with a family lawyer who can help. We serve all of Northern New Jersey, including Wanaque, Hawthorne, Hoboken, and Newark.