Can You Change A Marital Settlement Agreement After It Is Signed?
Q: I have signed a marital settlement agreement, but our divorce has not been made official by the court yet, can I change it?
A: A marital settlement agreement is often called an “MSA” for short. It is a contract between spouses on the terms of the divorce. It is usually incorporated directly into a stipulated judgment of divorce (or the terms from the MSA are restated in the stipulated judgment). A marital settlement agreement is a very important document because it can be enforced like any contract. This means that if the parties sign the agreement and then one fails to abide by the agreement (i.e. breaches the agreement) the aggrieved party can seek judicial relief and in some cases attorneys fees. Not all MSAs are the same, and the person who sent in this question has not given enough information about her/his divorce, child custody and child support, spousal support situation, or property division for me to say the agreement is unchangeable. If a term in the MSA is unconscionable that portion might be stricken while the rest might be upheld. I need more facts.
But, what you should take away from this post is that if you sign a Marital Settlement Agreement, you are usually held to it. Even if the court has not yet issued the judgment of divorce.