A Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) defines the terms of the divorce, legal separation or annulment. Once the agreement is agreed to and executed by both parties, the MSA is filed as part of the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage (aka divorce), legal separation, or annulment. In a nut shell, the parties decide the terms of their divorce instead of a judge.
The most common issues stated in a MSA are:
Child custody/ Visitation/ Timeshare and Support
Division of assets and debts
Other issues that may be included in a MSA are:
Attorney and expert’s fees
What happens if there is reconciliation
Warranties, Breach and Remedies
Waiver of rights to deceased spouse’s estates
Modification of terms
Advantages of a MSA incorporated into a final divorce judgement are:
Fair and equitable agreed upon judgment
Reduced court involvement
It is a legally binding, valid enforceable Agreement
Saves litigation time and money
Reduced attorney's fees
Some common issues that are not enforceable through a MSA are:
Child support – child support cannot be waived.
Child custody – The court has jurisdiction over minor children.
Religious upbringing of children – the court won’t enforce any terms of religious upbringing of minor children.
Damages – California court will not enforce paying of “damages” from one spouse to another.