The Importance of a Marital Settlement Agreement

The Importance of a Marital Settlement Agreement

When getting divorced you will want to come up with a marital settlement agreement to protect yourself and your assets. This divorce agreement will be the final judgement in the division of your property, finances, and more. Working with an experienced attorney can help you to understand the importance of a marital settlement agreement as well as ensure you are not leaving out any major details that can comeback to haunt you down the road.

What Goes in a Marital Settlement Agreement?

Depending on where you live or whom you talk to, you may hear different names for the settlement agreements that couples reach in divorces. Along with the most common—marital settlement agreement (MSA)—these other names include:

  • divorce agreement
  • divorce settlement agreement
  • settlement agreement
  • property settlement agreement
  • marriage settlement agreement, and
  • marital divorce agreement.

In the end, all these names mean the same thing: a written document that details how a couple has agreed to handle all of the issues that must be addressed when they get divorced, including:

  • how they will divide their marital property and debts
  • alimony (sometimes called spousal maintenance or spousal support), and
  • child custody, visitation (or parenting time), and child support (if they have minor or dependent children).

An MSA usually also has other provisions (“terms”) that detail how the couple will handle possible future events. For instance, spouses might agree that they will at least try mediation if they have any disputes in the future.

Can You Modify a Settlement Agreement?

Spouses may agree to change (modify) an existing agreement, even when it’s part of the divorce judgment. In fact, most MSAs address this possibility. Just be aware that you might have to get a judge’s court approval of the proposed modification.

If spouses can’t agree on a change that one of them wants, states provide guidelines for modifying settlement agreements, either in their statutes or in law that’s been established through court decisions. Judges will almost never allow a modification unless there’s been a significant change in circumstances since the original agreement. For example:

  • Spouses might be unable to pay child or spousal support because they lost their job through no fault of their own or became disabled.
  • The schedule for parenting time (visitation) might have to be altered due to changes in a spouse’s work schedule, or because a spouse is being transferred to another work location.
  • The important thing to remember is that a court will base its modification decision on the particular facts of each case.

Affordable Family Lawyer in Houston, TX

Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Our team is dedicated to helping you and your family move forward without legal matters complicating your life. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you resolve any legal problems you are currently facing.


Renken Law Firm, PLLC
11500 Northwest Fwy #586
Houston, TX 77092
(713) 956-6767
Visit our website
View our Google Business Listing