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What are the keys to a successful settlement agreement?

After even the most serious of disputes between Florida residents, individuals are often able to find common ground to resolve their differences. This happens in many divorce cases, as former spouses can find a way to settle their disagreements even after the most contentious of disputes.

If a divorcing couple is able to negotiate through their disputes, the way in which the matters will be resolved is typically through a settlement agreement. The court will review the parties' agreement and decide whether to approve it, after which the divorce may become final.

While settlement agreements can be beneficial for both sides of a divorce, it is essential that the agreements be drafted in such a way that considers all of the important issues at stake. First, the agreements should reflect the parties' agreement on the different issues in the divorce, including any agreement on the division of marital property, child support, spousal support and other key issues.

In some cases, there may only be agreements on some, but not all of these issues. Accordingly, the parties may choose to settle those issues they can agree on, while proceeding to litigate the remaining issues in dispute.

In any event, whether some or all of the issues are being resolved, the agreement must be drafted in a way that actually resolves those issues without leaving unintended loose ends hanging. If the parties agreed on a certain issue, for example, but the written settlement agreement is silent or conflicts with that understanding, then it can create a great deal of problems down the road with respect to what the parties agreed upon.

Similarly, the settlement agreement should be drafted in a way that anticipates future issues that may arise. Last week, for instance, this blog discussed how tax consequences should be considered at the time of the settlement agreement, as these later consequences could change how the parties think about those issues in the present time. In short, the settlement agreement should be full, thorough and carefully drafted to reflect the parties' intent.

Source: Findlaw, "Settlement agreements and court approval," accessed on July 16, 2016

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