Many people who dissolve their marriages want to create a divorce settlement agreement on their own rather than having to litigate issues and have a court rule on custody, property and asset division and support matters. Coming up with your own Florida divorce agreement is a wise choice since you will have a better chance of having an agreement that actually gives you and your spouse the things that are most important to each of you. Creating your own agreement can also allow you to avoid fighting, can help you to keep your personal business from being dragged through the courts, and can save you money in court costs and legal fees that would be incurred if you had to litigate all of the issues in your divorce.
However, while it is a smart choice to create your own divorce settlement agreement, it can backfire and turn into a major problem if you do not understand your legal rights and obligations and if you do not include all of the relevant details and information in your agreement.
What to Include in a Divorce Settlement Agreement
To make sure that your Florida divorce settlement agreement
contains all of the important details, you need to consider any and all issues that arise with joint property or with your business or personal relationship with your spouse. For example, some issues that need to be considered and included in your divorce agreement include the following:
• Provisions specifying who is responsible for paying for health insurance costs for children. If one spouse has been on the other spouse’s plan, it may also be advisable to include a clause about COBRA coverage and to factor into support discussions the added cost of health insurance once the spouse must obtain his/her own plan.
• Details on what alimony and child support will be paid, if any. Child support is generally determined by Florida guidelines but a couple may agree on any type of alimony arrangement they’d like. The agreement should specify whether alimony will be temporary or permanent.
• Details on how all marital assets will be divided. This should include the family home, retirement accounts and anything else that either party owns either separately or together.
• Details on child custody. You should be very clear in creating your custody agreement. For example, saying visitation will occur “every other weekend” may be too vague, especially if someone violates the agreement and the other spouse needs help enforcing it. It is usually better to be as precise as possible, such as stipulating that visits will occur on the first and third weekend of each month.
• Details on who will make decisions for the kids and how they will be made. Physical custody and legal custody are not always the same and there needs to be some details in the agreement about how you will work together to make choices for your kids or about who will be responsible for those choices.
• Details on debt and who is responsible for shared marital debt or individual debts that each party brought into the marriage.
These are just a few of the many types of things that need to be covered in a Florida divorce agreement. You should strongly consider getting help from a qualified divorce lawyer in order to learn more about what your agreement should contain and for help in drafting your agreement.
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