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Marital Settlement Agreement

A Martial Settlement Agreement (MSA) is a legally binding contract between you and your ex-spouse.  In a divorce trial, judges will consider the many arguments and evidence that the attorneys presented and make a ruling that they think best fits the law.  But if you have a Marital Settlement Agreement the judge will simply rule that your agreements are the terms of your divorce without the need for attorney arguments.  There is a lot less paperwork to fill out, and there is no need for a trial and hearings.  Contents of a Marital Settlement Agreement Depending on your situation, a Marital Settlement Agreement will typically include: 1. Child Custody and Parenting Plan 2. Child Support 3. Spousal Support (Alimony) 4. Division of Property 5. Miscellaneous Child Custody and Parenting Plan In California there are two kinds of "custody" orders, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody, which means who will make important decisions for your children (health care, education, and welfare). Legal custody can be: Joint, where both parents share the right and responsibility to make important decisions about the health, education and welfare of the children. Sole, where only one parent has the responsibility to make the important decisions about the health, education and welfare of the children. Physical custody, which means with whom your children will live or spend significant amounts of time. Physical custody can be: Joint, which means that the children live with both parents. Sole or primary, which means the children live with one parent most of the time and usually visit the other parent.   Your agreement will also include a Parenting Plan.  This involves developing a visitation and holiday schedule and transportation agreement for you and your children. Child Support Child support in California is based on a formula that all courts and jurisdictions follow.  Basically the formula factors in the income and certain expenses of each spouse, the number of children, and the amount of time the children spend with each parent.  California law will not allow child support to be waived in your agreement.  In other words, if you have children as part of your relationship, the courts must make an order regarding child support. However, you can agree to a different amount than the court formula as long as you know the ‘guideline amount’ and it is in the best interest of your child.  As part of our services, The Gentle Divorce will provide a copy of the court guideline amount of child support to help you make an informed and pressure free decision for a child support arrangement that works best for your family. Spousal Support (Alimony) Spousal support can be waived (it is optional).  If you choose to waive spousal support, it cannot be reinstated at a later time.  Courts determine spousal support based on a long list of factors including: Length of marriage Earning capacity and assets of each spouse or partner Child care arrangements Tax implications As part of your agreement you can agree to any or no spousal support and determine for how long the support should be in place. Division of Property California is a “Community Property” state.  This means that both spouses or partners have a one half interest in all assets and debts either one of them (individually) or both of them (jointly) acquired during the marriage.  A judge would determine what the community property is, how much each is worth, and then give each of spouse or partner half the value. In your agreement, you can divide the property equally as the courts would, or unequally.  You have a lot of flexibility in how you divide up your assets and debts. California law requires full financial disclosure to each spouse by each spouse.  The Gentle Divorce  will help facilitate this process as part of our services. Miscellaneous Agreements This section of your Marital Settlement Agreement will include any other agreements that you would like to have included.  It is YOUR agreement.
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