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The following information is not intended to be legal advice and you should always consult with an attorney before relying on anything stated or inferred in this article.
What is a Property Settlement Agreement and why do you need one?
A Property Settlement Agreement (hereinafter “PSA”) is a contract between spouses resolving all potential issues that would need to be decided by a Judge in a divorce. You need one if you want an uncontested divorce from your spouse.
Ok. That was a very short answer to a complicated question with plenty of grey areas. I will attempt to expand on that answer below.
In most divorces, your ultimate goal is to obtain an order signed by a Judge granting you the divorce. However, before a Judge can sign that order he is going to require that certain issues are resolved. These include, but are not limited to, custody and visitation of children, spousal support (alimony), child support, division of marital assets and debts, and division of retirement and investments.
Traditionally, these issues are resolved through a divorce trial. Of course, divorce trials can be unpleasant and expensive affairs. It is in the divorce trial that each spouse can use their intimate knowledge of the other to disparage them. It is in the divorce trial that your spouse paints you as a dangerous militia member because you purchased your son a BB gun for his birthday.
How do you avoid this? Get a PSA.
If you and your spouse reach an agreement on all the issues in your divorce, then there is nothing for the Judge to decide. I consider the PSA as the key to an uncontested divorce.
At this point, I assume you are now asking how do I create a PSA? As I said above, a PSA is essentially a contract between you and your spouse. However, there are differences. A PSA must be in writing, signed by both parties, and it terminates if you reconcile with your spouse.
Keep in mind that there are very limited formalities required for a PSA. So be careful about signing any type of agreement in the early stages of a separation when your emotions are high. Even a hastily drawn out agreement with absurd terms can be very enforceable in court.