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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Four Things Children Wish They Could Say About Your Divorce

Four Things Children Wish They Could Say About Your Divorce

Children need love, time, and parents who give them plenty of both.  Children know what they need but cannot express these necessities in words.  Additionally, in the tense environment of divorce, children often do not feel safe expressing their needs.  If they could, this is what they would say: “I am not a Weapon” Throughout history and even into the present, children have been forced into military service. This typically happens when a conflict is ongoing and desperate.  Most disturbing to me is when a desperate faction force children into carrying bombs or even acting as suicide bombers.  This is horribly extreme. But on a certain level, I feel like some divorced parents do a similar thing to their own children.  The parents are so bitter and exhausted from their divorce and ongoing conflict with their ex-spouse, they resort to using their precious children to attack each other.  Not an actual physical attack, rather and emotional one.  A bitter parent may say negative things about the other parent to the child.  One parent may instruct the child to say certain things to the other parent.  One parent may refuse to speak directly to the other parent, forcing the child to act as a messenger between them.  And so on. Your conflict with your ex-spouse is YOUR conflict.  Your child is not a weapon or tool for you to use to get what you want. “Your “Ex” is my Mommy/Daddy.  You may not love them anymore, but I still do.”  Allow your children the space and ability to love both their parents.  Your ex-spouse may be a real piece of work, maybe even a real...

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