The divorce decree sets forth the terms of your divorce. A couple can draft their own settlement separation agreement, also known as a marital separation agreement, that defines the terms of your separation and divorce. These terms include separation of property and other assets that belonged to both of you during the time of your marriage. If the terms are fair and agreed to by both parties, the courts will accept the agreement, and it will becoming legally binding.
This separation agreement can include but isn't limited to:
- The splitting of debt
- The division of property and assets such as jewelry, homes, vehicles, investments and company holdings
- Custody of children
- Spousal payments such as alimony, child support or retirement support
- The division of pensions
To determine whether the marital separation agreement is actually fair, the court will consider financial paperwork and affidavits submitted by both parties. The submission process is known as discovery. If you and your spouse hire lawyers, you will submit your own finances to your lawyer who will share them with the lawyer of your spouse.
The initial settlement separation agreement can be amended after it has been filed if both parties agree to the changes. However, this will incur an additional cost to the couple. The settlement separation agreement can also be modified by a court order if the spouses cannot come to an agreement about the terms of their divorce. The initial settlement separation agreement can prohibit modification via court order if by simply disallowing this change in the future. Except for court orders regarding the care of any minor children shared by the couple, the court will not be able to modify the settlement separation agreement in the state of New Jersey.
The marital separation agreement may not be part of the final divorce decree in New Jersey.