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Advantages of a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) in a Florida Divorce
Many couples going through a Florida divorce choose to negotiate a marital settlement agreement (MSA) to avoid litigation. The agreement can resolve all issues related to the divorce. There are many advantages of settlement versus litigation in a Florida divorce.
What Is a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) in a Florida Divorce?
Typically, an MSA deals with the financial issues related to a divorce. Child custody is usually addressed in a separate parenting plan and time-sharing agreement that can be referenced in the MSA.
The parties file the MSA with the court to become part of the final divorce decree. Because a marital settlement agreement is a contract, it is legally enforceable in court.
It is important to remember that the terms related to child support and alimony are subject to modification if the court finds a substantial change in circumstances. Property division is typically not modified after the final divorce order.
Advantages of Using a Marital Settlement Agreement in a Florida Divorce
Depending on your situation, there could be many advantages of an MSA. However, the top 5 advantages of a marital settlement agreement are:
When you litigate a divorce, you “air out” the details in court. However, negotiations for an MSA are private. Your reasons for a divorce and the disputes raised during settlement or mediation remain between you and your spouse.
More Flexibility and Control
If spouses disagree on divorce terms, an Orlando family court decides for them. They have no control over the outcome of their divorce.
However, if they work with divorce lawyers to mediate and negotiate an MSA, they have control over the outcome. They have the flexibility to compromise on issues that are not as important to them so they can receive what they truly desire.
MSAs can be more flexible than a judge’s order, which can be beneficial if you have children. Settling the matters before entering the courtroom produces better terms for both spouses than leaving it up to the judge.
Avoid Litigation and Conflict
Litigating a divorce is time-consuming, stressful, and costly. Avoiding conflict reduces your stress level and can help preserve a better relationship with your ex-spouse, which can help you co-parent your child more effectively.
Reaching a settlement can also significantly reduce the cost of a divorce. Litigation involves many other costs in addition to higher attorneys’ fees. Therefore, an MSA can save money to spend on more enjoyable things.
Narrows the Issues To Be Litigated
If you and your spouse cannot agree on all issues for your divorce, an MSA can help you narrow the issues to be litigated. For example, you and your spouse agree on all divorce terms except an inherited property.
You can submit the MSA to resolve all other issues and only argue about the inherited property in court. Even though you are going to trial, arguing about one issue is less costly than arguing about all issues.
Creates an Enforceable Agreement in Court
MSAs are legally binding contracts. It can be difficult to change the terms without the consent of both parties. Having a contract that can result in a costly court battle helps reduce the temptation to ignore the divorce terms. Either party can file to enforce the contract, so it is a mutual form of deterrence for breaking the terms of the divorce settlement.
Do I Need To Hire an Orlando Divorce Lawyer to Draft a Marital Settlement Agreement?
Because the MSA is an enforceable contract, it is always wise to seek advice from an Orlando divorce lawyer before signing one. Ideally, both spouses should have separate counsel when negotiating, drafting, and executing the marital settlement agreement. Having separate attorneys ensures both spouses have legal counsel protecting their best interests.
Additionally, what begins as an amicable divorce could drastically shift to a fully litigated divorce. If so, having an experienced Orlando divorce lawyer working on your case from the beginning means you do not need anyone to “catch up” on what has transpired. Your lawyer can quickly switch gears to continue fighting for the best outcome for your case.