On Family Law: What to expect after settlement

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By Mary Ann R. Burmester

You’ve reached a settlement with your soon-to-be-ex, either by direct negotiation or after mediation. You think you’re done and want to celebrate. Sorry to burst your bubble, but there’s still a long road ahead of you.

The next step is to draft the pleadings that memorialize the agreements reached. The four most common final pleadings are:

•Marital Settlement Agreement (“MSA”) that addresses dividing up the property and debts, spousal support and child support. There is also a lot of language that attorneys call “boilerplate” that you should go over with your lawyer carefully. It’s like the fine print in any contract.

•If there are children involved, the Parenting Plan deals with legal custody (decision-making) and visitation. Some lawyers put the child support provisions in the Parenting Plan, keeping all child-related provisions in one document; other lawyers put child support in the MSA, keeping all money-related provisions in one document.

•Next, the Final Decree of Dissolution of Marriage is prepared, which includes the legal name change if the wife wants it.

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