Divorce Decree Vs Marital Settlement Agreement

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    When it comes to a divorce, there are many legal documents that need to be filled out and signed. Two of these important documents are the divorce decree and the marital settlement agreement. While these two documents may seem similar, they serve different purposes and understanding the difference between them is crucial for anyone going through a divorce.

    A divorce decree is a court order that officially ends a marriage. It outlines the terms of the divorce, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and the division of assets and debts. The divorce decree is permanent and legally binding, and it is submitted to the court for approval and signature by a judge.

    On the other hand, a marital settlement agreement (MSA) is a legal contract between the divorcing couple that outlines the terms of their divorce settlement. The MSA is usually drafted before the divorce is finalized, and it covers similar topics as the divorce decree, such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and the division of assets and debts. However, unlike the divorce decree, the MSA is not submitted to the court for approval or signature by a judge.

    The benefit of a marital settlement agreement is that it allows divorcing couples to have more control over the terms of their divorce settlement. It allows them to negotiate and come to an agreement outside of court, which can save time and money. The MSA can also be used to address certain issues that may not be covered in the divorce decree, such as the division of a specific asset or the payment of a certain debt.

    However, it is important to note that the MSA is still a legal contract, and it is binding once it is signed by both parties. Therefore, it is crucial to consult with an attorney before signing an MSA, as there may be potential legal consequences if one party fails to abide by the terms of the agreement.

    In summary, while the divorce decree and marital settlement agreement may seem similar, they serve different purposes in a divorce. The divorce decree is a court order that officially ends the marriage and outlines the terms of the divorce, while the MSA is a legal contract negotiated between the divorcing couple that covers similar topics and provides more control over the terms of the settlement. It is important to consult with an attorney before signing any legal documents related to a divorce to ensure that your rights are protected.