Divorces can be messy and expensive but a Property Settlement Agreement can alleviate a lot of heartache and save money in the long run. Essentially, a Property Settlement Agreement is a contract entered into between the spouses wherein outstanding issues between the parties are agreed to in lieu of having a judge decide. The reality is the parties understand their own issues and are in a far better position to contractually decide their fate than allowing a judge to decide issues that are extremely important to the parties. We offer a Free Initial 30 Minute Consultation For New Clients. Give us a call or use the contact form below.
Examples of Issues Addressed in a Property Settlement Agreement:
- Date of marriage.
- Children born, if any.
- Grounds for divorce – since PSAs are agreed to, the ground is generally one year separate and apart).
- No interference clause – each party is free from interference from the other. Each party is free to engage in any employment, business, or profession without interference from the other.
- Child Custody – set forth custody and visitation schedule. Specifically, the parties can agree on joint legal custody, sole legal custody, shared physical custody, and sole physical custody depending the parties' desires and/or circumstances. In addition, holiday and summer vacation schedules can be agreed to.
- Child Support – set forth a child support payment schedule. While technically unenforceable, parties can agree to waive child support in the event they have a shared arrangement with the child. Additionally, the parties can agree on a child support amount, including the parties' payment of the child's medical expenses, school expenses, daycare, etc.
- Spousal Support – set forth a spousal support payment provision, if appropriate.
- Assets – real property, personal property (e.g. cars, boats, furniture, clothing, kitchen items), retirement accounts (e.g. IRAs, 401Ks, Pensions), bank accounts,
- Liabilities – debts (e.g. school debt, credit card debt, mortgages)
- Insurance – address whether the parties agree to maintain one or the other on their insurance policies or that each party will be responsible for their own insurance. Parties can also agree as to the childrens' insurance coverage
- Taxes – parties can agree on how to allocate the deduction and claiming their minor children as dependents and, therefore, receive the associated deduction. Many times one parent will claim the child on even-numbered years while the other claims the child on odd-numbered years.
- Lawyer Fees – parties can agree to be responsible for their own lawyer fees or one party can agree to pay the other's lawyer's fee.
- Release Clause – parties typically agree to release each other from one another's debts and any outstanding demands made of one of them from a third party. In addition, the parties generally agree to give their rights in the other's estate upon their death, including giving up any right to a dowery.
- Waiver of Equitable Distribution – parties acknowledge that they will not seek equitable relief from the court for property (since they have already agreed to it in the property settlement agreement contract. If one party is later upset they cannot then change their mind.
- Effect of Reconciliation – parties agree that resumption of the marital relationship does or does not result in the property settlement remaining in full force and effect.
- Incorporation into Divorce Decree – parties acknowledge that the agreement will become part of the Divorce Decree.
- Modification and Waiver – parties agree that changing any part of the property settlement agreement can only be done by writing and executed by the same formality of that which was done for the original property settlement agreement.
- Voluntary Execution – parties agree the property settlement agreement was entered into voluntarily and was not the product of duress or undue influence.
- Severability – parties understand that even if the court finds some of the provisions unenforceable (such as total waiver of child support), the remaining provisions are still enforceable.
- Situs – parties agree the property settlement agreement shall be governed by the law of Virginia.
- Effective Date of Agreement
- Must be endorsed by both parties. This is typically done before a notary public, but it is not required.
Why have a property settlement agreement?
- Parties are much more familiar with their various custody, support, and property issues than a judge.
- Will be far less expensive than having an equitable distribution trial.
- Will help to contain the hostility between the parties and keep matters agreeable.
- Less stress, less time-consuming, and helps each party in getting on with their lives.
Can I do my own property settlement agreement?
While there are forms out there, it is strongly advisable to hire competent counsel to draft a property settlement agreement. Every case is different with different property, custody and support issues. The lawyers at Letnick Law Firm PLC have been representing divorce clients for over 35 years. Come in for a free initial 30 minute consultation to discuss your case.