A property settlement agreement, or PSA, is a contract that married couples can enter into to resolve the rights, interests, and obligations the parties may have to each other during and after the divorce process. PSA’s are frequently used to establish the framework for proceeding with an uncontested divorce. In fact, a PSA is required in any uncontested case where the parties have no minor children together and wish to shorten the statutory separation period from 12 months to 6 months.
A comprehensive PSA allows the divorcing spouses to address divorce matters that would otherwise be decided by the court, such as child custody and visitation, spousal or child support, and the distribution of marital property, assets, and debts. It may also address issues over which the court has no jurisdiction, such as division of separate property or tuition and expenses related to a child’s private school or even college education. The level of control a well drafted PSA gives spouses over the outcome of their divorce is perhaps the greatest benefit to entering into such an agreement.
It is important for spouses to understand that a PSA is a contractual agreement that must be mutually agreed upon and executed by each spouse to be effective. This requires negotiation and often compromise between spouses who have decided to dissolve the bonds of marriage. The process of reaching an agreement may require more work depending on the degree to which the relationship between the spouses has deteriorated. However, because a PSA allows spouses to settle matters on their own terms, the amount of effort that may be required is usually worth it. Without a PSA, these matters can only be decided by a judge, and only after what could be contentious, lengthy, and expensive litigation.
The attorneys at Smith, Barden & Wells, PC are experienced in guiding our clients through the process of divorce. If you are contemplating divorce, contact us today at (804) 794-8070 to discuss how we might assist you.