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Marital Settlement Agreement in California

What Does the Marital Separation Agreement Cover?
How Do You File?
Read the Details
Frequently Asked Questions
References

You and your former spouse or partner have worked together, settled core issues, and are ready to move forward with your divorce. In other words: you've come to a settlement agreement to end your marriage. 

A marital settlement agreement puts your terms in writing. The document is a requirement for California courts to end your marriage, and you can't move forward without completing it. 

Online templates (like this one) are free to download, and they're relatively simple to fill out. But you need more than an agreement to finish your marriage. You also need to fill out plenty of forms, and most are attached to your agreement. 

Use Hello Divorce's free CA Settlement Agreement worksheet.

Think of your marital settlement agreement as a cover letter for all the forms you fill out. Completing this step can be time-consuming, but it's the last one you must take before your divorce is finalized. 

What does the marital separation agreement cover?

A written marital separation agreement is split into sections, each containing important details about your marriage and impending divorce.

Those sections include the following:

  • Statistical facts: Details about who you are, when you were married, how many children you have, and why you're getting divorced go here. 
  • Acknowledgments: You both certify that you've shared information, investigated the details, and understand what you've agreed to. 
  • Custody: If you have children, you explain how you'll handle visits and where the children will live
  • Support: You outline child support, children's expenses, and spousal support in three sections. 
  • Property: You detail who will take community property and how you'll handle debts.
  • Attorneys: If you hired someone to help you, this section explains who will pay them. 
  • Taxes: Divorces come with tax penalties. This section helps you explain how you'll handle those fees. 

Most importantly, a marital agreement contains a space for signatures. Both you and your partner must sign and date this document. 

How do you file an agreement?

At the start of your divorce, one of you headed to a local court, filed paperwork, and paid a fee. You'll go back to this court to file your agreement and finalize your divorce.

Your agreement should be accompanied by forms, such as these:

  • Judgment (FL-180)
  • Child Custody and Visitation (Parenting Time) Order Attachment (FL-341)
  • Child Support Information and Order Attachment (FL-342)
  • Spousal, Partner, or Family Support Order Attachment (FL-343)
  • Property Order Attachment to Judgment (FL-345)
  • Declaration Regarding Service of Declaration of Disclosure (FL-141
  • Appearance, Stipulations, and Waivers (FL-130)
  • Declaration for Default or Uncontested Dissolution or Legal Separation (FL-170)
  • Spousal or Domestic Partner Support Declaration Attachment (FL-157)
  • Notice of Rights and Responsibilities (FL-192)
  • Stipulation and Waiver of Final Declaration of Disclosure (FL-144)

If you're not sure you've completed all the forms you need, use the Judgment Checklist - Dissolution/Legal Separation (FL-182) as a final check. 

This list of associated forms is long, and it can be a little intimidating. If you have questions or need help, visit your court's Self-Help Center to find out more. The staff members can't offer legal advice, but they can help ensure that you've used all the right documents.

Read the details carefully

A marriage settlement agreement is a legal document that lasts until it's revoked or modified by both parties in writing (with plenty of forms attached). It's incredibly difficult to change these arrangements once you make them.

Read all the documents carefully and ensure you understand what they say and mean. Take your time, and ask for help if you need it. This is your final chance to ensure your divorce moves as you intend it to. 

Marital settlement agreement in California FAQ

These are common queries people ask about marital settlement agreements:

Do I have to pay to finalize my divorce?

If you paid fees at the start of your divorce process, you don't need to pay more. 

Do the courts review the marital settlement agreement for fairness?

A judge reads all the documents you file, but that professional rarely pays attention to issues of fairness. You've both agreed to the terms, and you've attested to that fact in writing. A judge will simply ensure that all of your documents are in order before ruling. 

What's the difference between marital and non-marital property?

Marital property includes goods, buildings, businesses, and other assets you acquired during the marriage as a couple. Non-marital property, or separate property, includes assets that were yours before the marriage or those you acquired independently after things were over.

References

Marital Settlement Agreement. Judicial Branch of California. 

Write Out the Agreement. Judicial Branch of California. 

Finish Your Divorce When You Have a Written Agreement. Judicial Branch of California.