A Marital Settlement Agreement, also known as a Stipulation of Settlement, is a written document signed by both spouses in divorce proceedings, in which issues such a property division, child custody, child support and visitation arrangements and spousal maintenance payments are agreed upon by the spouses in advance of filing for divorce. By agreeing on all of the terms in advance, the spouses avoid court appearances and misunderstandings. It can lead to a faster and less stressful divorce, and avoid a trial which can be very time consuming and expensive in terms of legal fees.
A Marital Settlement Agreement is included with the divorce filing, and is a valid and enforceable contract between the spouses. Once the court grants a divorce which includes the Agreement, the matter is concluded, and in most cases the divorce may not be challenged by either party. However, either party may challenge an Agreement which was entered into as a result of fraud by the other spouse, such as the non-disclosure of hidden assets. In this event, a divorce already granted may be reopened and the contested issues litigated.