Marital Settlement Agreements: A Trial Alternative

Marital Settlement Agreements: A Trial Alternative

A Martial Settlement Agreement (MSA) is a legally binding contract between divorcing couples.  In California, a judge must rule on every single aspect of your divorce. In litigation (trials and hearings) the judge will consider the arguments and evidence that the attorneys presented and make a ruling that they think best fits the law. However, if the couple has a Marital Settlement Agreement, the judge will simply rule that those agreements are the terms of your divorce.  There is no need for a trial or hearings.  In fact, under most circumstances the couple never even appears in court.   Agreements Included in a Marital Settlement Agreement. Depending on your situation, a Marital Settlement Agreement will typically include arrangments for: Child Custody and Visitation Child Support Spousal Support (Alimony) Division of Property Miscellaneous Agreements   Child Custody and Visitation Agreement In California there are two kinds of “custody” status: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to who can make important decisions for the children (health care, education, and welfare).  Physical custody refers to whom the children will live or spend significant amounts of time.   Both types of custody can be joint (shared) or sole (one parent only). A Marital Settlement Agreement typically will also include a Visitation Agreement, also called a Parenting Plan. This plan usually includes a visitation and holiday schedule and transportation agreement.   Child Support Child support in California is based on a formula that all courts and jurisdictions follow. Basically the formula factors in the income and certain expenses of each spouse, the number of children, and the amount of time the children spend with each parent. California law will not allow...

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