What is a Mediated Settlement Agreement?
In a divorce case, couples often use Mediated Settlement Agreements (MSAs) to formalize their agreement about the division of property, child custody, and other issues. MSAs are legal documents that establish the terms of a divorce settlement, and can be extremely helpful in avoiding future disputes.
The Importance of Clarity in MSAs
When drafting an MSA, it is essential to be clear and specific about the scope of the agreement. Couples should identify and address all possible issues, and ensure that there is no room for ambiguity. A well-drafted MSA can prevent future disputes, save time, and help avoid costly legal battles.
It’s important to note that not every possible issue can be foreseen and addressed in the MSA. However, by identifying and addressing as many issues as possible, couples can significantly reduce the risk of disputes.
For example, suppose a couple agrees on the division of their assets, child support, and spousal support in their MSA. The MSA also includes a provision stating that each party will pay their own attorney’s fees. However, the couple’s temporary agreement concerning child custody is not resolved in the MSA.
Later, when the couple goes to trial over the issue of child custody, one party may argue that the provision in the MSA about paying attorney’s fees applies only to the issues addressed in the MSA, and not to the custody dispute. The other party may argue that the provision applies to all legal disputes arising out of the divorce. The resulting ambiguity could lead to a legal dispute over attorney’s fees.
In conclusion, MSAs can be extremely helpful in avoiding future disputes in divorce cases. However, it is essential to be clear and specific about the scope of the agreement to prevent ambiguity and disputes over issues that were not addressed in the MSA. Although not every possible issue can be foreseen and addressed in the MSA, addressing as many issues as possible can significantly reduce the risk of disputes.
If you need representation in a divorce case, please call the team at the Blacknall Firm for experienced and compassionate legal guidance.