With nearly 50% of marriages ending in divorce, the US has the sixth highest divorce rate worldwide. At 10.2%, New Mexico has the fourth-highest divorce rate in the country. Creating a divorce settlement agreement is among the first steps in the divorce process.
When creating a divorce settlement, a couple comes up with their divorce terms and presents them to a judge. If the judge finds the agreement compliant with state and federal laws, they implement the stated terms.
A divorce settlement agreement is legally binding and may cover various topics. Knowing what to include in the settlement agreement will ensure you end your marriage on fair terms. Read on to discover some factors to consider in a divorce settlement.
Agreeing on how much time you and your spouse will spend with your children can help avoid future conflict. Unless you want sole custody of your children, you should divide parenting time equally between you and your spouse.
You and your ex can come up with a detailed schedule of the time each of you will spend with the kids. This will ensure children can have a close relationship with both parents, which is in their best interests. Your schedule should include each parent’s share of holidays and vacations.
Even after a divorce, parents need to support their children. Therefore, you cannot sign away your children’s right to parental support. You can refer to your state’s child support guidelines to decide how much child support you or your spouse should pay.
You and your spouse should also agree on how you will handle other parental obligations, such as your children’s health insurance and education expenses.
In a divorce, properties owned by the couple are categorized as marital/joint property or separate property. The first step in asset division entails identifying which assets you owned before and during your marriage.
Separate properties are any assets gained by a person before their marriage and kept only in their name. You may not include separate properties in your divorce agreement.
On the other hand, marital properties are any assets owned after the marriage date. You must include these in your divorce settlement. You and your spouse will need to assess the value of each asset and agree on who gets to keep which asset.
You may do this over the phone or in a face-to-face discussion if matters between you and your partner are civil. Otherwise, you may hire a lawyer or solicitor to talk to your partner on your behalf.
After dividing your assets, you can move on to joint debts. Joint debts may include:
- Mortgage payments
- Car payments
- Bank loans
- Student loans
- Credit card balances
Debt division is a sensitive issue as you or your spouse may have acquired some debts individually. You may agree to split your joint debts equally or that each person should pay the debts under their name individually.
The marital home is the largest joint asset in a divorce case. Some options you can choose from on how to handle your marital home include:
- Agreeing with your spouse to sell the house and sharing the proceeds equitably
- Buying out your spouse’s ownership and agreeing to refinance the mortgage
- One spouse moves out but continues to pay the mortgage
- Co-owning the house until a pre-determined date
If your spouse has life insurance coverage, you may want to agree on whether or not you should remain on their insurance. You may also include a provision requiring your spouse to continue paying life insurance with your children as the beneficiaries.
Working on your divorce settlement with an attorney will ensure you can maximize your gains from the settlement. Having an attorney speaking on your behalf may also keep the settlement process civil and prevent unnecessary conflict. Contact our divorce attorneys at Law Offices of Lynda Latta, LLC today for legal representation in your divorce settlement negotiations to keep the settlement process as smooth as possible.