A marital settlement agreement (MSA) is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of a divorce settlement. It is a critical element in the divorce process as it covers essential aspects such as property allocation, spousal support, child custody, and child support. However, what do you do when circumstances change, and the MSA no longer aligns with your current situation? Fortunately, it is possible to change your marital settlement agreement in certain circumstances.
1. Consider the Terms of the Original MSA
The terms of the original MSA must be considered before amending the agreement. If the terms are minor, such as changing contact details or updating assets, it may be possible to modify the MSA without much hassle. However, if the terms are substantial, such as custody or support modifications, the process could prove more complicated.
2. Discuss the Changes with Your Ex-Spouse
It is essential to discuss the proposed changes with your ex-spouse and try to reach an agreement. If you agree on the changes, you could create a written amendment that both parties sign, and it can be added to the existing MSA.
3. File a Motion to Modify the MSA
If you cannot reach a mutual agreement with your ex-spouse, you will need to file a motion to modify the MSA. This motion must be filed in the court that granted your divorce initially, and you must provide a valid reason or change in circumstances that warrant the modification.
4. Attend a Hearing
Once the motion is filed, you will have to attend a hearing in court with your ex-spouse. The judge will determine if the changes requested are valid and necessary. If the judge agrees, they will issue an order that determines the changes made to the MSA.
5. Create a New MSA
If the judge approves the changes, you will need to create a new MSA that incorporates the court order`s terms. It is essential to have a family law attorney review the new MSA to ensure it complies with the court`s order and is legally binding.
6. File the New MSA
Once the new MSA is created, it must be filed with the court and recorded with the county clerk`s office. It is advisable to send a copy of the new MSA to your ex-spouse and have them sign it to show that they agree with the changes.
Modifying a marital settlement agreement is not a simple process. It requires fulfilling a set of legal requirements that determine whether the court will approve the modifications. As such, it is advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the process, ensure that the new MSA meets legal requirements, and represents your interests in court.