Here are the 9 important things that a woman should ask for in a divorce settlement:
- Share in the marital home
- Distribution of other marital property
- Distribution of debts and liabilities
- Co-parenting arrangement
- Child support
- Child’s insurance
- Custody of documents
- Undisclosed transfers of property and post-divorce liabilities
A divorce settlement agreement is a legally binding contract that is entered into by the spouses in contested and uncontested divorces. It contains the terms of property and debt division, child support, alimony, child custody, visitation rights, etc. the agreement provides clarity on each spouse’s duties and responsibilities, and about who gets what asset or liability. As this agreement impacts the future of both spouses, it should be drafted by an experienced divorce attorney.
With that said, here is what a woman should include in such an agreement:
Share in the Marital Home
A home purchased by the couple while they were married is considered marital property. Unless specified otherwise in a prenuptial agreement, in most cases each spouse gets a 50% share in the marital home.
Before division, the spouses should consider getting the home valued by an appraiser if they do not agree on its valuation. The division, which comes next, depends on who gets the home.
If one spouse gets the home, he/she should pay the other spouse’s share in cash or in other property (marital or separate property belonging to the spouse who keeps the home).
If the spouses do not agree on the division, the home can be sold and the proceeds (after paying off any mortgage) can be shared.
The agreement should also state who will have exclusive possession of the home and which spouse is responsible for the maintenance, repairs, improvements, taxes, and insurance of the home in the future.
Distribution of Other Marital Property
Before dividing property, the spouses should make an itemized list of their separate properties. Separate property belongs to the original owner and will not be divided in divorce unless there are extraordinary circumstances. Separate property should be included in the divorce settlement agreement.
Next, both spouses should make a list of common marital property (furniture, cars, stocks, bonds, wedding rings, engagement rings, bank accounts, etc.) and agree on how these will be shared in the divorce settlement agreement.
Retirement accounts are also considered as marital property and are subject to equitable distribution. However, the funds that are deposited in the retirement account belong to the account-holding spouse. Therefore, their distribution must be specifically clarified in the settlement agreement.
Debts and Liabilities
Separate as well as common debts and liabilities too should be itemized, along with the mention of the spouse who is responsible for paying off the common debts or other liabilities.
Debt and liabilities include student loans (almost always separate debt), mortgage loans, credit card debt, income tax, personal loans, lawsuits by creditors, and bankruptcies.
Child Custody and Co-Parenting Arrangement
A woman should include the following terms after consulting with her family law attorney. The idea behind including these terms is to make your child’s life easier and happier.
- Which parent gets the primary legal or physical custody, and whether such custody is sole or joint?
- Duties and responsibilities of each spouse for the child’s extracurricular activities, meetings with relatives, celebrations, etc.
- A calendar that specifies which parent will be with the child on weekdays, weekends, shared vacation time, and holidays. This part can also include a vacation schedule.
- An arrangement for keeping the kids safe at each parent’s home (for example, locking away guns when the child is at home, not exposing the child to a new date, and more).
- Other parent’s visitation schedule.
- Which parent will pay how much every month towards child support, and when does the payment of child support commence?
- How is the child support money allocated among the children?
- How is child support calculated? (It is typically calculated based on the parents’ incomes, parenting timeshare, and other circumstances of the case).
- Who pays if child support is required beyond the age of 18? (For example, if the child has special needs).
- Which parent will pay medical and dental health insurance for each minor child and for how long? Or, in what proportion will each parent share this insurance premium?
- Circumstances under which a parent may stop insurance payments.
- Which parent will pay for any uncovered or uninsured healthcare expenses of the minor child? How will the paying parent be provided proof of such uncovered expenses?
- In how many days will the parent have to make the insurance payments?
- Which spouse shall pay the alimony every month and by what date?
- For how long will the alimony payment continue? (Typically alimony is paid until either spouse dies, or the spouse who receives the alimony remarries, or the spouse receiving alimony cohabits, or by court order, or any modification of the alimony clause in the divorce settlement agreement, whichever comes first.)
Custody of Documents
In a divorce settlement, it must also be asked specifically which parent gets to keep the child’s documents such as passport, social security cards, birth certificate, and other documents, in case the parents get joint custody of the child.
Undisclosed Transfers and Post-Divorce Liabilities
Both spouses should declare that they have not made any undisclosed transfers of money or gifts at less than their market value to anyone without informing the other spouse. If it is discovered that either spouse is lying, he/she should be made to pay to the other spouse 50% of the undisclosed transfer/gift, plus interest, after its market value is determined. This is just an example, and the percentage may be different depending on the facts in any given situation.
Both spouses should also declare that post-divorce they will not take on any liabilities that can be enforced on any asset belonging to the other spouse after the divorce.