What does Settlement Agreement mean?
Settlement agreements, also called Divorce Settlement Agreements, Separation Agreements, Custody, Support, and Property Agreements, as well as a variety of other names outlines the agreement reached with your spouse or partner before or after the divorce or legal separation.
You and your spouse may create the settlement agreement on your own or with the help of a mediator or divorce lawyer. After the settlement agreement is completed, reviewed, approved by the court and signed it is considered a binding legal contract, which means if you or your spouse refused to follow the orders outlined in the agreement you could be held in contempt of a court.
Will I have to go to court to create a settlement agreement?
As mentioned above, under some conditions spouses are able to work together to create a settlement agreement. If you and your spouse cannot agree, however, and efforts at mediation or a more collaborative process breakdown, you will probably end up in court before a judge who will make the decisions for your separation or divorce.
Does a lawyer need to review the divorce agreement?
While you and your spouse may amicably create the settlement agreement, it is highly recommended that before it is finalized you hire a lawyer to review it to ensure your rights are protected. If your rights are not protected you do not have to sign the agreement, especially if the first draft was created by your spouse’s lawyer who does not represent you or your interests.
Modifying a settlement agreement
Provisions of the settlement agreement can be modified. For example, it is not unusual for child custody or child support agreements to be updated. For example, if you are the supporting spouse and your financial obligations or situation has changed you can request to have the child support settlement agreement modified. Modifications are generally allowed if you can prove there has been a significant change in your circumstances since the original order and the new arrangement is in the "best interests of the child."