Marital Settlement Agreements

Final judgments of dissolution of marriage are entered by the court after a trial before a judge or after you have voluntarily entered into a marital settlement agreement. The majority of family law cases are resolved by the parties entering into an agreement through mediation or negotiating an agreement directly between themselves with the assistance of their counsel. Generally, these agreements address settlement of all issues that arise in the dissolution of marriage case; such as the division of marital assets and liabilities, time-sharing and parenting plans,child support, alimony and attorneys’ fees.

What if I Need to Change the Terms of My Marital Settlement Agreement?

At some point after the final judgment is entered, you may need to modify or change a financial obligation or time-sharing term within your final judgment, marital settlement agreement or parenting plan. For example, if you are unable to meet your financial obligations or there has been a development with your child that requires changes to your parenting plan, then a modification may be appropriate to make the needed changes. To obtain a modification, you must either enter into a new agreement with the opposing party that is approved by the court, or you need to obtain a new order from the court through an evidentiary hearing.

What if My Former Spouse is not Following the Marital Settlement Agreement?

If your former spouse or opposing parent is not following the final judgment or marital settlement agreement, you may need to seek enforcement through the court. The court will compel the non-complying party to abide by the terms of the final judgment or agreement and may result in a the court entering a contempt order against him or her. If the court finds that the non-complying party failed to comply with the final judgment or marital settlement agreement, most often times your former spouse or opposing parent will have to pay your reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.

What if My Marital Settlement Agreement is Unfair?

Under limited circumstances it may be appropriate for a court to set aside a final judgment or marital settlement agreement. This may be the case if, within one year of the court entering the final judgment you discover that your former spouse did not disclose all of the financial information he or she was required to disclose under the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure, or if there was fraud, misrepresentation or other misconduct by one spouse when entering into the marital settlement agreement. If a court sets aside a final judgment or marital settlement agreement, the judgment or agreement is deemed null and void and the parties must either renegotiate a new marital settlement agreement or have a trial of all of the issues before a judge.

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