Congratulations, you and your spouse have reached a verbal agreement with respect to spousal support. Memorializing the accord in a spousal support agreement is an effective enforcement mechanism which can be utilized prior to, during, or at the conclusion of a divorce or separation. Accurately incorporating the stipulations within the bounds of a contract will save time, money and apprehension caused as a result of the unknown. Judith Areen, author of "Family Law Cases and Materials" confirms, not only will an accord reduce litigation costs, but carefully drafted support agreements are valuable since parties are more likely to adhere to the terms of their resolution than one compelled by a judge.
Include the names of both parties and assign an indentifying term such as "Wife" and "Husband" to the coinciding party. The agreement should also contain the address of each party as well as the date and place of marriage. If applicable, include the date of the filing of the complaint for divorce.
List yearly salaries as well as assets acquired prior to and during the marriage to help illustrate the fairness and reasonableness of the understanding. An agreement containing language that the parties disclosed their finances and assets to the other prior to executing the accord helps alleviate the likelihood of unfairness and corroborates an informed decision.
Incorporate the specific terms of the accord. There are various forms of spousal support and your agreement must clearly set forth the terms and conditions for the support award. Incorporate the name of the individual who is paying the support and which party is to receive the support. Whether you and your spouse agreed for payments to be made directly, through the probation department or via wage garnishment, specifying how the spousal support amount will be paid to the recipient is crucial. Also, identify the frequency the support will be paid (i.e. weekly or monthly). Provide the date payment commences and terminates.
Review and proofread the document for accuracy and confirm that the agreement contains all of the provisions to which you and your spouse agreed. There should be no other agreement between you and your spouse regarding spousal support other than the accord contained within the final written document. In the event you and your spouse made a verbal agreement which, for some reason or another, did not make its way to the final written spousal support agreement, your rights may be jeopardized.
Include a provision confirming both parties read the agreement and understood its terms. Stipulate that both parties understood their right to seek assistance of counsel, if desired. Indicate both parties entered into the agreement freely and voluntarily and that no one forced or coerced either party to sign the accord against their free will or as a result of duress.
Designate a place for witnesses to sign and for the parties to execute the document before a notary public to confirm the identity of the parties executing the final agreement.
Tips & Warnings
- Be aware that there are tax consequences in connection with spousal support. Contact your accountant for information.
- Seek the assistance of an attorney in your state to review the draft agreement.
- "Family Law Cases and Materials"; Judith Areen; 1999
- Divorce Source.com; Enforcement of Settlement Agreements; Theodore Sliwinski, Esq.
- Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
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