What to include in a divorce agreement?
A divorce agreement which is also known as a divorce settlement agreement is a document which contains all of the details between spouses in the process of getting a divorce. It’s important that this agreement contains all of the relevant information about what the couple had agreed upon.
If either of the spouses doesn’t follow the terms written in the agreement after the divorce gets finalized, one of them can file a motion with a court for the purposes of enforcing the agreement. Therefore, the more detailed your divorce agreement template is, the more helpful it will be in legal proceedings.
Here are some of the most important information to include in your divorce agreement sample:
- Parenting time schedule
Often, when couples negotiate a settlement, they don’t want to create a detailed parenting time plan or schedule because they believe that they can easily work things out. However, no matter how amicable you and your spouse are towards each other, things might turn sour and this might lead to disputes.
Conflicts which occur because of time schedules are very common. This is why it’s important to come up with a complete and detailed time schedule which you both agree with and which is in the best interest of your kids.
- Details about support
In most cases, both parties would have to exchange both child support and alimony. It’s important to include the details about these types of support for the purposes of clarification. Include the information about your income and which sources of income you used in the calculation of support amounts.
For alimony, make sure to include the amount to get paid monthly, the due date of the alimony each month, and how long the alimony will last if it’s a limited obligation. Also, include the details about the termination of alimony like remarriage or death.
- Details about life insurance
It’s also important to include information which requires the spouse who pays the support to maintain life insurance making sure that the amount is enough to secure his/her responsibility.
Then, the other spouse must be the policy’s beneficiary to secure your child support or alimony. This protects the spouse receiving support as he/she will continue to receive alimony and child support in the event that the give of the support dies.
- Details about retirement accounts
It’s important to list all of the retirement assets of both parties. Provide the details about the assets, how these will get divided, and who gets to keep which assets. There are some retirement accounts which need a QDRO or a Qualified Domestic Relation Order before it can get divided.
In the divorce agreement, include a provision about who will complete the QDRO and who will prepare the costs. If you plan to divide an IRA, you can do this by rollover. In such a case, make sure to specify the time frame.
- A plan for the sale of real property
A lot of couples decide to sell their marital home after the finalization of the divorce. To make sure that this process goes without a hitch, include all of the details about the sale of the home in the divorce settlement agreement. Include as many details as you can about this sale.
For instance, if one of the spouses wants to keep the home and buy out the other, this may require refinancing. Therefore, you should include a time frame for its completion and the specific type of deed to exchange.
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How to write a divorce agreement?
No matter how you look at it, divorce is a difficult process that’s filled with heartbreak, stress, and emotions. Still, coming up with a divorce agreement or a divorce settlement agreement template is essential, especially if you want to minimize the chance of experiencing disputes in the future.
A divorce template or a divorce agreement sample is a legally-binding contract wherein you and your spouse agree on the terms written on the document. This agreement can cover a wide range of topics including property division, child support, custody, visitation rights, spousal support, and more. After creating the divorce agreement template, you can bring this to court.
If the judge reviews the document, deems it fair to all of the involved parties, and doesn’t find any terms which contravene federal or state laws, he will agree to implement your agreement and all of its terms. But how do you create a divorce template or agreement? Here are some tips to guide you:
- Start with the basic information
First, you must obtain all of the required legal forms from a justice website or the law library of the government court of the province or state. Since the divorce agreement is a legal document, start by including the basic information like the full names of everyone involved in the agreement.
- Include all of the relevant information
The next step is to include other relevant information pertaining to your marriage including:
your marriage date
your separation date
the names and the ages of your children who are still minors
the reasons for your divorce
your most current living arrangements and your complete addresses
- Verify your divorce settlement agreement
It’s also important to include a statement claiming that both of you accept all of the terms in your agreement. Accepting the terms and affixing your signatures in the presence of an official witness makes the divorce agreement template legally-binding.
- Identify and divide the debts and assets
This is one of the most important parts of the divorce template. Most couples have both “joint” or “marital” assets and “separate” or “personal” assets. In general, anything owed or owned by one spouse before the marriage remains as a separate debt or asset. But everything acquired during the marriage becomes marital property.
Only these types of debts and assets get subject to division in the process of divorce. Some examples of such assets include a car, a house, memorabilia, a recreational vehicle, and more. Spouses must talk about all of these debts and assets in detail when creating the agreement.
If the couple isn’t in good terms, they may ask help from an attorney, solicitor or lawyer to represent them during these discussions. After identifying all of the assets and debts, you must also talk about how you will divide them. Talking about all of these details and including them in the agreement may help prevent the occurrence of conflicts in the future.
- Come up with a parenting plan for visitation and custody
The next thing to do is to talk about your children from the marriage. You must decide whether you and your spouse agree to sole, split or shared custody. When it comes to these discussions, you must always have the best interests of your children in mind.
Most couples agree on sole custody wherein only one parent would take care of the children while the other only visits. However, more and more couples prefer arrangements wherein the children live with both of their parents either 60/40, 50/50 or whatever works for the family.
In such cases, for any agreement except the 50/50 agreement, the spouse who takes charge of the children longer than the other is the one considered the “primary residential parent” while the other spouse becomes the “secondary residential parent.”
For couples who prefer sole custody, it’s important to include all the details of visitation rights of the nun-custodial parent. In this part of the agreement, make sure to include as many details as possible to avoid misunderstandings. Relevant information to include are which days of the week the parent can visit and for how long, where the children will stay during the holidays, and more.
- Agree on alimony and child support
These are the last details to include in your agreement. Especially in sole custody cases, you mustn’t sign the agreement which only includes child support but not your right to alimony or spousal support. Each state has its own child support guidelines. Do your research to find out the minimum amount payable.
- Polish your divorce agreement
After you’ve included all the relevant information, set all the terms, and agreed on all of them, it’s time to polish your document. Review the contents meticulously and check for any omissions or errors in grammar and spelling. Do the proofreading once or twice to make sure that everything’s okay.
Submitting a document to a court that’s full of errors might end up destroying your credibility. These might even generate opportunities for conflicts and misunderstandings. If you can afford it, give the document to a family lawyer and ask him/her to review it for you before submission.
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