What is a Divorce Settlement Agreement?

A Divorce Settlement Agreement, commonly referred to in New Jersey as a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) or Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), is a written legal document that defines the terms of a divorce between the parties.  


It outlines the parties’ rights and obligations moving forward after the divorce.  If it is signed by both parties, the Agreement becomes part of the Judgment of Divorce that is signed by the Judge.


Who Decides What Goes Into the Settlement Agreement?

The beauty of a Settlement Agreement is that the parties lay out the contents.  They are in control.  It is an agreement between the former spouses, which is normally the result of many negotiations and discussions.   Given the parties know themselves and their lives the best, a PSA provides them with the opportunity to come up with innovative solutions to problems that are specific to their own lives.  For example, they can create a parenting time schedule that fits best with their work schedules and child’s school and activity schedules, or they can decide they want the custodial parent to remain in the marital home until the children graduate so the children aren’t forced to move. 


What Does A Settlement Agreement Contain?

The PSA contains all of the issues that the parties have resolved regarding the terms of their divorce.  Common sections include alimony, child custody and parenting time, child support, college expenses, division of assets and liabilities, and any other additional issues that were addressed and resolved by the parties in regards to getting divorced. 


Can A Court Reject My PSA?

Without evidence of fraud or other compelling circumstances, such as coercion or mental incapacity, a judge should not reject the agreement reached between two parties.  Generally, if there are no children involved, the court will not do an in-depth review of the Agreement at the time of divorce.  The judge will just try and make sure that the parties entered into the Agreement voluntarily, that they understand that the Agreement is binding, and that they fully comprehend what they are signing and its impact.  When children are involved, the court will review the document a bit more in-depth, in particular the child support section, to see if the Child Support Guidelines have been used, and if not, what the reason(s) are, to ensure the child’s best interests are being protected.


Keep in Mind That the Agreement is Binding!

Remember, the Property Settlement Agreement is incorporated into the Judgment of Divorce.  Therefore, it is a binding document between the parties and is enforceable by the court.   It is very important that you fully understand a PSA before you sign it, and it is highly recommended that you find your own attorney that will review it with you to help make sure your interests are protected. 


Contact The Law Office of Jill Jedrusiak, LLC

If you need help filing for divorce or negotiating a Property Settlement Agreement, contact Toms River based divorce attorney Jill Jedrusiak today at (732) 719-2202 or jill@jerseyfamilyattorney.com.