Marital settlement agreements, also known as divorce settlement agreements, marital termination agreements, separation agreements, or stipulations of settlements, are written contracts between divorcing spouses of their responsibilities and rights after divorce. Once formed, both parties are legally bound to them. If one party is not willing to obey their obligations, the other can file the agreement with the court to enforce it. If the judgment of divorce has not yet been issued, the court will incorporate terms from the agreement.
The marital settlement agreement cannot be modified once signed. Matters relating to finance like property and debts become final unless both parties agree to a change. Under this circumstance, they will reach a modification agreement. If necessary, they will get a new court order to enforce it. Matters of child support can be modified if 1) the circumstances substantially changed, or 2) three years have passed since the last order, or 3) there has been a change in either party's gross income by fifteen percent or more since the order was entered, last modified, or adjusted; however, if the parties have specifically opted out of subparagraph 2) or 3) of this paragraph in a validly executed agreement or stipulation, then that basis to seek modification does not apply. See: Matter of Giraldo v. Fernandez
The marital settlement agreement is invalid if it is substantially unconscionable, or it is the result of fraud or duress. If the mediator is not impartial, fails to disclose conflicts, or failed to fully inform the participants about the law and their rights, then the agreement formed through the mediation is also invalid and the court can set aside the agreement.
[Last updated in March of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]