Fort Lauderdale Marital Settlement Agreements Lawyer
MSA lawyer experienced in contract law, necessary for a strong agreement
A marital settlement agreement (MSA) is a fairly new process that is designed to expedite the dissolution of marriage process for couples who can still collaborate and come to an agreement. A poorly drafted MSA inevitably requires you to go to court to modify, clarify or re-litigate issues to which decisions have already been agreed. At Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, we can meticulously draft your MSA to potentially save both you and your spouse thousands of dollars and allow you to receive closure much more quickly. Contact our Fort Lauderdale marital settlement agreement lawyer today.
What is an MSA?
Like any other type of litigation, taking a divorce case to trial can require substantial resources, including time, energy, and money. However, there are other options for a divorcing couple to come to an agreement on their own terms outside of court. Like other civil cases, a divorcing couple can engage in settlement negotiations and can come to a settlement agreement regarding the various issues of the divorce. This agreement is a legal contract signed by both parties and that can be enforced just like any other type of court order. Once a couple agrees to certain settlement terms, they must abide by those terms or risk facing consequences imposed by the court. If they want to change the terms of the MSA, they must go through a certain process to do so. An experienced MSA attorney can help you to negotiate with your spouse to come to an agreement and draft a comprehensive settlement agreement so you do not have to go through costly and time-consuming court hearings and trials.
What can an MSA cover?
An MSA contains all the terms, conditions and agreements reached by the parties as part of a dissolution of marriage, or divorce, settlement. Potential items include:
- Equitable distribution of marital property
- Equitable division of debts
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Child support agreement
- Child custody, visitation, and parenting plans
An MSA is different from a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement because these agreements are contemplated prior to or following a marriage that is not being dissolved. An MSA is used only to settle a marriage that is in the process of dissolution. However, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may come into play when drafting an MSA. If a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement addresses issues like property division or spousal support, those terms may be incorporated into a marital settlement agreement.
Helping with Effective Negotiations
The best marital settlement agreements result from skillful negotiations that elicit mutually agreeable terms and compromises. If negotiation are rushed, couples will commonly end up back in the courtroom to enforce or modify their MSA. It is essential to have an experienced divorce lawyer on your side throughout negotiations for many reasons.
First, it can often be difficult to know the long-term effects of certain compromises. If you are not fully aware of how certain MSA terms will affect you, you may agree to something that can have a negative impact on your life in the long run. If your spouse has an attorney who is a skilled negotiator, you should always have the highest quality of representation yourself to ensure your best interests are protected and that you do not agree to anything that is unfavorable. In addition, an attorney can promote negotiations that are in your favor and help to get your spouse to agree to certain terms that will make your life easier following a divorce.
After negotiations are complete, an attorney must know how to skillfully draft a marital settlement agreement so that it properly reflects all of the negotiations that took place. Furthermore, if your spouse’s attorney drafts an agreement, you need an attorney who can carefully review the agreement to make sure it represents your agreement. There is always the chance that your spouse’s attorney can change certain terms and this may be difficult to identify as agreements often contain complex legal language. Having our lawyer representing you throughout every stage of the process can result in an MSA that works best for you in your situation.
What happens if a former spouse disregards the MSA?
The MSA is a contract that is entered into by each party freely and willingly. The agreement has a binding effect on each of the parties and can be enforced by a court. If a former spouse is not complying with the terms and conditions set forth in your MSA, an experienced lawyer can help you petition the court to protect your parental rights. For noncompliance, a court can compel the other party to comply. If the party does not comply, the court can issue an order declaring the noncompliant party in contempt of court.
For noncompliance with child support agreements, the court has additional powers and can:
- Suspend the noncompliant party’s Florida drivers license
- Capture the noncompliant party’s IRS tax refund
- Garnish the wages of the noncompliant party
- Capture the noncompliant party’s lottery winnings greater than $600
- Place liens against the noncompliant party’s land or other property
- Report past-due payments to credit reporting agencies
- Place a hold on the noncompliant party’s bank account
- Recover missed payments from the noncompliant party’s bank account
Contact our attentive Fort Lauderdale martial settlement lawyer today to discuss your settlement agreement
MSAs offer you a potentially less costly means to execute your divorce. To determine if an MSA is appropriate for you, visit our downtown Fort Lauderdale office. Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC is close to Broward Hospital, north of Davie Boulevard, and just three blocks from the county courthouse. For a free initial consultation, call us today at 954.817.0402 or contact us online. Our office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday with Saturday appointments upon request.