It is a recurring fact that 40% to 50% of all marriages in the United States end in a divorce. This means that if you are married, there is a probability you’d experience divorce. To better prepare yourself for a divorce, it is essential that you learn how to write a divorce property settlement agreement.
What Is A Divorce Property Settlement Agreement?
As the name suggests, a divorce property settlement agreement is a contract between spouses that sets out the terms and conditions upon which properties are shared following a divorce. This type of agreement typically covers properties such as houses and joint investments, savings accounts, insurance coverage debts, and other assets.
Steps to writing a divorce property settlement agreement
To write a PSA, you’ll first need to understand your rights and responsibilities and those of your spouse. You’ll also need to come up with an estimate of how much each party’s property is worth. After you have all this information, you can start drafting the PSA. Here are five simple steps to writing a PSA:
Start With Basic Information About The Marriage
Begin the settlement agreement by providing basic information about the marriage, such as
- Names of Both Spouses;
Date of Marriage;
- Location of the marriage (city/state);
- Duration of the marriage etc.
If possible, you can also take into account any premarital agreements that you may have made. This information would give a background overview of the marriage prior to the divorce property settlement agreement.
Identify The Properties
The next step in writing a property settlement agreement is to identify all marital assets and debts. This includes assets like your home, vehicles, investments, insurance, retirement savings (401k), and other personal belongings. Debts such as tax payments, credit card bills, car payments, or student loans would also be identified in the agreement.
Estimate Their value
After the assets have been identified, it’s time to estimate how much each is worth. Estimates should be based on current market prices and other factors such as sentimental value. Once you have your estimates, add them all up to get an overall value for each asset. From here, you can start negotiations according to this figure.
Work Out The Terms Of Distribution
Once each property is identified and ascribed a value, the next step is to set out the terms of distribution. A lot of negotiations happen during this stage, and spouses are expected to deliberate on the mode of dividing up properties, what percentage of investment they will receive, and how debts are shared.
Before moving to the next step, it is important you ensure that both spouses agree to all terms.
Put the agreed terms in writing.
When spouses have agreed on how their properties are to be shared, the next step is to put it in writing. What was decided on should be clearly written out to prevent any misconceptions that may arise.
Finally, the signatures of both contracting parties are needed to finalize the divorce property settlement agreement. This signature acts as proof that both spouses fully understand and agree with the provisions in the settlement agreement and a guarantee that the terms of the document will be followed.
What If a Divorce Property Settlement Agreement Cannot Be Reached?
In cases where spouses cannot agree on property distribution, a court may be called to help resolve this conflict. Judges are experienced in this area and will better understand the parties involved, their financial situation, and what would be fair for both spouses.
Ordinarily, the court tends to favor a 50/50 split between spouses. However, other factors it may take into consideration include;
- the length of the marriage;
- the income and assets of each spouse;
the age, health, and special needs of each spouse;
whether one spouse has custody of the children;
- whether there are existing financial responsibilities on the part of one spouse;
the physical and emotional condition of the parties;
- separate property acquired before the marriage;
the standard of living during the marriage; and
- any extraordinary circumstances that may have arisen since the divorce
Getting an Attorney to Review your Divorce Settlement Agreement
Having an attorney review your divorce settlement agreement can help you ensure that all crucial provisions have been included and that there are no potential conflicts or surprises. An attorney can also provide guidance on how to best deal with any possible disputes that may arise.
If you are considering getting an attorney to review your divorce settlement agreement, here are four simple steps to follow:
- begin by talking with a family law attorney about your specific situation;
- create a timeline of events based on the information you provide;
- identify any potential issues or disputes; and
- seek legal counsel to help resolve any discrepancies.
Divorce is never easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. By following these tips, you can develop an agreement that works for you and your family.