What Is A Settlement Agreement?

In any Ohio divorce, one of the most basic questions that need to be answered is: How will you and your spouse resolve your differences? For some couples, this means taking their divorce to trial. Spouses who are so completely at odds that they have no hope of working together may have no option other than to ask a judge to make decisions for them. While litigation is sometimes necessary, it tends to be messy — and expensive — and it often leaves both former spouses unsatisfied with the final result.

However, in most cases, divorcing couples are able to resolve their differences out of court. There are a number of options for doing so, and often spouses who believe that they are headed to court are ultimately able to settle their divorce through alternate means. The methods that spouses can use to establish the terms of their divorce out of court are negotiation, mediation and collaborative divorce.

So, let's assume that you and your spouse are able to come to terms without resorting to litigation. What happens now?

Finalizing Your Divorce

When spouses settle on the terms of their divorce out of court, they need to put those terms in writing in what is known as a "marital settlement agreement." A marital settlement agreement can cover all aspects of a couple's divorce, including:

Generally speaking, divorcing spouses have a decent amount of leeway to craft settlement terms that work for their unique individual circumstances. By working with their respective attorneys and utilizing mediation or collaborative methods, spouses can often craft customized, thoughtful settlement agreements that meet both of their immediate and long-term needs. As a result, while there are companies that sell "forms" of marital settlement agreements online, using one of these forms will almost never be the best solution for formalizing the terms under which you will end your marriage.

What Terms Need To Be Discussed?

In addition, while spouses have some leeway, they do not have free reign when settling on their terms. For example, even if both spouses are in agreement, Ohio law generally disfavors waiving child support. If the child support guidelines call for payment of support, it can be difficult to argue that not paying that support would be in a child's best interests.

Custody and visitation matters must be resolved in the children's best interests as well, and even property division and alimony are subject to guiding principles under Ohio law. Part of your attorney's role in representing you during your divorce settlement will be to help ensure that you are protecting your rights in a way that complies with the applicable legal requirements. That way, when it comes time to draw up your marital settlement agreement, your attorney can prepare an agreement that will gain court approval and allow for the efficient finalization of your divorce.

Getting Your Agreement Approved

As suggested above, in Ohio, marital settlement agreements are subject to court approval. In most cases, obtaining this approval is a simple and straightforward process. The spouses' attorneys will prepare a proposed divorce decree to submit to the court, and the court will schedule a hearing at which the agreement will be approved. The approved agreement then becomes a court order establishing the final terms of the couple's divorce.

Get Started Today

At Laubacher & Co., we provide knowledgeable, personal legal representation for divorcing spouses in Rocky River, Cleveland and throughout Cuyahoga County. If you would like to discuss your options for resolving your divorce out of court, call us at 440-462-1882, or request a free consultation online today.