What is the Difference Between a Separation Agreement and a Stipulation of Settlement?

What is the Difference Between a Separation Agreement and a Stipulation of Settlement?

separation agreement and stipulation of statement

When a couple decides to divorce, all of their issues relating to child custody, child support, alimony, and division of assets are resolved either by a judge after trial, or in most cases, between the parties by agreement.  This agreement is created after full disclosure of both parties’ finances, valuations/appraisals of marital assets, such as a house, pension, and/or business, and expert opinion regarding custodial arrangements, in some cases.  After the “discovery” phase has been completed, the attorneys for both parties negotiate terms with the goal of reaching resolution, and incorporating those terms into an agreement.  This agreement must be signed and by each person and notarized before it can become binding. Prior to finalizing such an agreement, the divorcing couple should each hire New York divorce lawyers to represent their best interests. Given that there is a legal component involved with a marital settlement agreement, an attorney needs to be involved in every step of this process. At Fass & Greenberg, our Garden City divorce attorneys are knowledgeable about the steps in a divorce and can give you the legal advice you need.

How To Approach A Marital Settlement Agreement

In the event of a separation or divorce, this agreement will serve as a written record of how the couple has decided to manage the aspects of their lives that are shared. This can include care for children, spousal maintenance, and separating property. It is very important for each spouse to note that there are laws governing how this type of an agreement can take effect.

It is also critical to have an attorney involved so that each person’s interests are represented by their respective lawyers, even if they both agree to the terms. Garden City NY divorce lawyers can also help propose changes to that agreement to make it more fair, if necessary.

In the instance where you have finalized and signed the agreement, an attorney can assist with making any changes. However, before these changes can be made, both parties must agree to them and understand that they will prevail going forward.  Most significantly, any changes to the agreement must be signed by both parties with the same formality, i.e., notarized and acknowledged, with the same formality as the original agreement.

The Difference Between a Separation Agreement and a Stipulation of Settlement

The only difference between a Separation Agreement and a Marital Settlement Agreement, or Stipulation of Settlement, is that in the case of the latter, there must be a divorce action pending before the parties enter into the agreement.  The terms of the Agreement are then incorporated into a judgment of divorce.  Once the parties are divorced, they are free to remarry, are no longer eligible to remain on one another’s health insurance plans, and are able to distribute retirement funds to the other spouse pursuant to the terms of the agreement without any tax consequences.

In the case of a Separation Agreement, the parties have provided for the division of assets, support, child custody, etc., with the same formality as a Stipulation of Settlement, but they remain legally married.  As a result, most insurance companies provide for parties to continue maintaining their spouses on their policies as long as they are not divorced. 

If you are in need of legal assistance with creating a marital settlement agreement and have other questions, contact Fass & Greenberg for a consultation. Let us help you with this transition for you and your family.

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