DuPage County Divorce LawyerWhen a couple who shares children and owns property wants to get an Illinois divorce, they will need to draft a marital settlement agreement (MSA) before the divorce can be finalized. A marital settlement agreement, or divorce agreement, is the contract that details exactly how a married couple will divide their marital assets and debt and handle child-related issues. Once the MSA is drafted, a judge can approve it and include it in the Judgment of Dissolution, which is handed down when the marriage ends. So, do you need an MSA? And, if so, what does an MSA need to contain? Read on to find out. 

Do We Need a Marital Settlement Agreement? 

Not every couple needs an MSA. Couples who share no children and have no significant or complex assets or debts do not usually need a marital settlement agreement to allocate a few possessions, waive alimony, and end the marriage. Spouses who have been married for a very short time often do not need an MSA. 

What Should a Marital Settlement Agreement Include? 

While each couple’s MSA can vary depending on the relevant issues that must be addressed, MSAs can include: 

  • The amount and length of spousal maintenance or alimony, if any 

  • How property and debt will be divided

  • The amount and duration of child support payments 

  • Parenting time and parental responsibilities arrangements 

  • Family pet ownership

Couples have a wide range of flexibility when creating their MSA, and, as long as it is not “unconscionable” or overtly unfair, a court will approve it. MSAs can and should be highly specific and may take up several dozen pages to ensure every issue is adequately managed. While negotiating their MSA, couples are encouraged to use mediation or other alternative dispute resolution strategies to avoid a trial in which a judge has to decide on some or all of the issues that would otherwise be in the MSA. Once the judge approves the MSA, he or she will incorporate it in the Judgment of Dissolution during the final prove-up and the marriage will be over. 

Schedule an Initial Consultation with a DuPage County Divorce Attorney

While creating a marital settlement agreement may not be easy, the feeling of satisfaction and finality that couples achieve after ending their divorce can provide a welcome sense of closure after an arduous process. For help drafting a divorce agreement that protects your rights and interests, schedule a complimentary case review with an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney with Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio. Call us now at 630-920-8855 to learn more.