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Settlement Agreements

A settlement agreement or joint stipulation is a written agreement between two or more parties which settles all or a portion of the legal disputes surrounding a divorce, paternity, modification, or other family law issue.

Once a settlement agreement is signed by both parties, it is a legally binding contract that is enforceable by the court. In Florida, family law cases may be required to be mediated. Mediation is a process where a neutral third party assists the parties and their attorneys in reaching consensus on the issues at hand, such as equitable distribution of marital and nonmarital assets.

What should you include in a divorce settlement agreement?

Clients are encouraged to cover everything that is important to them. This includes custody of children, child support payments, alimony, and the separation of property such as your family home, vehicles, and other assets. The agreement should also cover your debts and expected expenses. If you have children, all relatable expenses such as health care, college savings, school expenses, day care, and any other expected costs should be included in the settlement agreement.

What happens if spouses cannot agree on a divorce settlement?

If you cannot agree with your spouse on a divorce settlement, you may seek the help of an attorney to submit the dispute before a judge at a pretrial meeting. This will normally take place in the judge’s chambers. The attorneys will present different positions to the judge at the pretrial meeting, and the judge will make the recommendations for an equitable settlement. If a pretrial meeting cannot bring an early settlement, a trial date will be set.

If necessary, your attorney will help prepare you for trial. The preparations may include interviewing witnesses, taking depositions, studying reports from experts, and reviewing facts given by your ex-spouse. The decision will come directly from the judge, as juries are not involved in divorce proceedings.

Can you modify a settlement agreement?

Most aspects of a marital settlement agreement are very tough to change. It is important to hire an experienced attorney for divorce, particularly when negotiating a settlement. A marital settlement agreement is a contract that can usually be changed by agreement of both parties.
Florida courts can modify marital settlement agreements in the areas of child support and alimony. Section 61.14 Fla.Stat. provides courts with authority to modify, even when the parties have agreed on those issues.

Many agreements are enforceable by law, so it is important that you have an experienced family law attorney review and prepare the documents on your behalf. Attorney Ambrose can work with you to discuss the particulars of your case and determine the best possible solution. Call today at (407) 388- 8740.