Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA)
A Maryland Marital Settlement Agreement or "MSA" is a written document or contract between spouses that outlines the division of marital assets and property in the event of separation and divorce. A Marital Settlement Agreement is necessary to be filed with the court in uncontested divorces, if all issues regarding divorce have been resolved by the spouses. The Agreement can also include how property is divided or transferred between spouses, when and if there is a buyout of a spouse's interest in property, or if no property will be transferred among spouses. During a marriage, spouses can acquire assets as a couple or individually, including homes, cars, boats, jewelry, stocks, bonds, savings accounts, antiques, furniture or equipment, tools or the like that requires an agreement on how to dispose of or divide between spouses at the time of divorce. If the spouses have minor children together, the Agreement can and may also include issues related to children or dependents, custody, child support, the division of time that each spouse has with their children, and procedures to follow in the event that there is a dispute. The MSA can also discuss provisions related to alimony, division of personal property, life insurance and/or any asset or thing that was acquired during marriage.
In situations where spouses own real estate together, a Marital Settlement Agreement may be used to transfer property, or to deed property from one spouse to the other.
Contents of Agreement
The contents of each Agreement will depend upon the nature of the parties marriage and the division of same upon divorce. It is recommended that each spouse have their own attorney to review the Marital Settlement Agreement prior to signing it, to ensure its contents are sufficient and that it complies with Maryland law. Since each spouse may have different interest to the other spouse, one attorney can not represent the interests of both spouses to advise on the MSA. After a MSA has been submitted to the court, at the hearing for divorce, your attorney or a judge may question you regarding the contents of the Agreement.
Mutual Consent Divorce
Having a Marital Settlement Agreement and a mutual understanding of how to resolve all marital issues related to divorce is often the simplest way to proceed with divorce in the State of Maryland. In order to divorce in Maryland, you must be able to show and satisfy the grounds for divorce prior to the filing for divorce. When filing for divorce under the ground of Mutual Consent, spouses must execute and attach their Marital Settlement Agreement to the Complaint, in order to proceed under the mutual consent grounds of divorce.
Upon a hearing on divorce, questions will be asked regarding the Marital Settlement Agreement. A spouse must be able to testify that they entered into the Agreement voluntarily, that they had an opportunity to consult with counsel prior to signing and that they signed the Agreement freely and without duress and without any undue influence. They must also confirm that the signatures on the Agreement are valid and that they understand that the Agreement is a legally enforceable contract between spouses to dissolve the marital relationship.
Speak to a lawyer today to prepare or review your Marital Settlement Agreement. You can schedule a time to speak with a lawyer here or contact us by phone or text (410)415-3617 for a phone consultation.