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Property Settlement Agreements in New Jersey

Establishing the conditions for your Divorce and laying out the framework for your relationship with your former spouse post-Divorce.


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Property Settlement Agreements


Marital & Property Settlement Agreements in New Jersey

You'll need a Marital Settlement Agreement if you're getting divorced. A Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), sometimes called a Property Settlement Agreement (PSA) is a legal document used in New Jersey that lays out the conditions of a divorce and establishes a framework for former spouses' post-divorce relationships. MSAs are also known as Property Settlement Agreements in New Jersey. While many couples just have to worry about their marital assets and obligations, others, especially those with young children, need a more complete arrangement.

Separation Agreements vs. Master Service Agreements

Before making a final decision on divorce, some couples want to separate. An agreement may assist clarify financial, property, and parenting arrangements throughout the separation time in this kind of scenario.

Anything that an MSA will ultimately cover may be addressed in a separation agreement, but the issues are typically somewhat different. If the spouses are not yet ready to split their assets and debts, the separation agreement may "freeze" assets and debts, prohibiting either spouse from selling an item or incurring more debt during the separation. The agreement may include how the couple will pay their mortgage, rent, and other household expenses throughout the separation, as well as what would happen if they do not reconcile within a certain time frame. A separation agreement, unlike a final Marital Settlement Agreement, is not filed with the court. It is, nevertheless, legally binding between the spouses if correctly completed, and may serve as the foundation for the final MSA.

If you and your spouse want to create a separation agreement, our attorneys can help you make sure it's legal and will stand up in court. A formal separation agreement between you and your spouse, on the other hand, is only enforceable under fundamental contract law; the family court will not recognize it as an official file or enforce it as an order in your case.


The Divorce Process in New Jersey and Marital Settlement Agreements

In a disputed divorce, couples frequently spend a lot of time and money arguing over matters, only for a judge to make the ultimate choices. In an uncontested divorce, spouses have complete control over the outcome and avoid most of the time-consuming judicial procedure. Couples who choose for an uncontested divorce from the beginning may sign a written MSA before or shortly after filing for divorce.

Conversely, couples who begin a contentious divorce procedure may always negotiate an MSA and convert to an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce usually proceeds more quickly and with less animosity between former spouses, which is a win-win situation for everyone concerned, particularly for any children from the marriage.

Putting Together a Divorce Settlement Agreement

While couples may theoretically draft their own MSA/PSA, we'd recommend hiring a lawyer who can draft all or part of the Property Settlement Agreement who can ensure it's comprehensive and inclusive of the right terminology. One of our Divorce attorneys will go through the MSA with you and make sure you understand how it differs from what a court may order.

However, you should keep in mind that you give up your right to a trial by signing an MSA and requesting a court to approve it. In a divorce, neither a court nor a mediator will represent your interests. Judges seldom read MSAs; instead, they depend on evidence to decide whether both parties freely consented to the provisions. A court does not give judgment on the agreement's merits, nor does he or she examine it for fairness, which is why an attorney should be involved.

Putting a Marital Settlement Agreement into Effect

In your written MSA, be sure to include any conditions and agreements reached with your former spouse that you want a court to be able to enforce. To avoid future disputes or lawsuits, make the terms as clear as possible.

If you and your spouse get along well, it may be tempting to leave certain details to be worked out later, however any conditions that you do not include in your written agreement will not be enforced by the court. As much as possible, we'll want to make sure you've covered every conceivable scenario. You should also provide a mechanism for resolving any future disputes in your contract.

The final MSA is legally binding between the parties after it is signed. It is often included into the final divorce decree, making it as enforceable as any other court order. It may also be combined or partly merged with the divorce decree, which has an impact on contract law enforceability.

Changing a Marital Settlement Agreement's Terms

If you and your spouse agree that a modification is necessary after your MSA has been filed with the court, you may modify it. If this is the case, you might consider going to mediation before filing a modification motion in court.

If one of you disagrees, the other may file a request in court to modify the agreement. In the case of a significant change in circumstances, the court always maintains the right to alter conditions related to child custody and support. Unless the Property Settlement Agreement expressly says otherwise, terms related to spousal support are also changeable. However, except in the case of nondisclosure, provisions related to asset and debt distribution cannot generally be altered after the divorce is finalized. If you need to draft a Marital Settlement Agreement with your spouse or ex-spouse, our experienced New Jersey divorce lawyers can ensure that your agreement fits your present requirements while also protecting your future interests.

For a free and confidential consultation with one of our Divorce attorneys, contact us today at 800-709-1131 or fill out the form below.

New Jersey Family Courts we appear in regularly:

Bergen County 
Justice Center, Room 119
10 Main Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601
(201) 527-2300


Essex County 
Family Division Dissolution Unit
Wilentz Justice Complex, Room 113
212 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 693-6710


Family Division Non-Dissolution Unit
Wilentz Justice Complex, Room 1365
212 Washington Street
Newark, NJ 07012
(973) 693-5560 or (973) 693-5520


Hudson County
Family Intake Team
Administration Bldg., Room 203
595 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 795-6777


Hunterdon County 
Family Case Management Office
Hunterdon County Justice Center
65 Park Avenue
Flemington, NJ 08822
(908) 237-5920


Mercer County
Family Case Management Office
175 S. Broad St., 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 8068
Trenton, NJ 08650-0068
(609) 571-4200


Middlesex County
Family Part Intake Reception Team
Family Courthouse
120 New St., Room 111
P.O. Box 2691
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-2691
(732) 519-3242

Monmouth County
Family Part, Courthouse
71 Monument Park
P.O. Box 1252
Freehold, NJ 07728-1252
(732) 677-4050


Morris County
Morris County Family Division
Morris County Courthouse Family Intake
Washington and Court Streets
P.O. Box 910
Morristown, NJ 07963
(973) 656-4000


Somerset County
Family Case Management Office
Courthouse, 2nd Floor
P.O. Box 3000
Somerville, NJ 08876-1262
(908) 231-7600


Sussex County
Sussex County Family Division
Sussex County Judicial Center
43-47 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
(973) 579-0630


Union County
Dissolution Assignment Office
New Annex Bldg.; Courthouse
2 Broad Street
Elizabeth, NJ 07207
(908) 659-3314


Warren County
Family Division Dissolution Unit
413 Second St.;
P.O. Box 900
Belvidere, NJ 07823-1500
(908) 475-6150


Our experienced lawyers in Family, Divorce, and Real Estate law are committed to pursuing your interests to the greatest extent possible under the law. As always, your consultation with us is completely free and 100% confidential.