5 Advantages of a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) in a California Divorce

Hossein Berenji, Mar 20, 2024

Not all divorce actions involve ugly legal battles. Generally speaking, if you cooperate with your spouse during the divorce, the terms of your Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) will probably reflect the amicable nature of the settlement process. Courts like it when divorcing couples agree on the terms of their divorce because it saves them time and trouble.

Below is a listing of the major advantages of MSAs. Keep in mind, however, that settlement is not the best idea for every divorcing couple. In cases of high conflict, domestic abuse, or a major power imbalance between you and your spouse, you might need the intervention of a family court to set fair terms for your divorce.

1. Flexibility

An MSA allows you and your spouse to design an agreement that reflects your individual needs and priorities. This setup allows you far greater flexibility than relying on the decision of a family court judge, which might not fully address all the complexities of your circumstances.

Your MSA can personalize provisions related to the following:

Keep in mind, however, that although you generally enjoy the freedom to determine child custody and child support as you please, the judge reserves the right to overrule the terms of an MSA if they conflict with the best interests of the child.

It’s worth noting that if you draft your MSA skillfully, it’s easier to modify it later than to seek a court order in response to changing life circumstances such as a new job or a relocation.

2. Discourages Conflict

The MSA model encourages you and your spouse to find common ground. This approach is likely to reduce conflict between you, not only during the divorce but in the future as well. If you have young children, you might have to deal with your spouse for many years to come. An MSA can set a precedent of cooperation that might still be saving you from conflict ten years from now. 

3. Low-Stress

No divorce is stress-free, but some divorces are less stressful than others.

The following are some of the reasons why a California MSA divorce is probably a lower-stress option than informal separation or court-ordered divorce:

  • Predictability: An MSA provides you with a clear roadmap for your post-divorce life. It reduces your uncertainty about your financial obligations, property arrangements, and child-related matters. Predictability offers peace of mind.
  • Harmony: Negotiating a solution generates far less animosity than trying to impose a solution on your spouse through a court order. By clearly outlining each spouse’s obligations, you’re more likely to avoid stressful court battles down the road. Finally, an MSA encourages healthy co-parenting.
  • Enforceability: A court is more likely to enforce an MSA that seems fair and carefully worded. It’s crucial, however, that you avoid any terms that a court might view as unconscionable or otherwise unenforceable.

There is no absolute guarantee that an MSA will lower your stress levels, but it’s probable. 

4. Quick and Simple Solutions

The judge will review your MSA agreement. If it’s well-drafted and fair, the judge will approve it. No litigation, no conflict. This will probably result in a faster and less drawn-out divorce. That’s not a guarantee–even MSA divorces sometimes erupt into conflict. It does improve your odds, however.

5. Offers Privacy

Court proceedings become part of the public record. That’s all your private business, including your finances and your personal life. An MSA allows you confidentiality. You can outline financial details and arrangements concerning your children without them becoming publicly accessible. This privacy is particularly beneficial if you are wealthy or well-known.

A Divorce Attorney in California Can Help You with an MSA

Even a DIY, negotiated divorce is likely to require legal assistance, especially if you have minor children or a lot of assets. No matter how amicable your relationship is, however, it is not permissible to hire a single lawyer to represent both of you. If the other spouse hires a lawyer, it would make no sense for you to represent yourself–you need a lawyer, too.

Contact a Beverly Hills Family Law Lawyer Today

If you’re going through a divorce, you need a strong team on your side fighting for your rights. Call Berenji & Associates Divorce Lawyers today to know how we can assist you.

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9465 Wilshire Blvd #333
Beverly Hills CA 90212
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