Most divorces are resolved and finalized by a settlement agreement between the parties. In other words, most cases do not go to trial. Your case can be settled by informal negotiations or through a formal mediation conference. When the parties have settled the issues between them, a Marital Settlement Agreement will be drafted, reviewed and signed by you and your ex-spouse. This contract should be carefully drafted in order to prevent future litigation over what the parties truly meant in the agreement.
If litigation over a Marital Settlement Agreement occurs, it is typically because there has been a misunderstanding of the terms. When you read the agreement, you may think a term has a very simple meaning. However, your ex-spouse may interpret that term to have a very different meaning. Both parties assume that the other party has violated the agreement which will ultimately lead to a lawsuit for the court to determine what the term of the agreement means.
A divorce settlement agreement is interpreted by the court in the same way that other types of contracts are interpreted. This means that the court will look only at the document and not consider any outside evidence. However, if the opposing parties believe that the term is unambiguous but they both attribute reasonable but differing meanings, the court may determine that the term is ambiguous. When a term is ambiguous, the court is allowed to consider other outside evidence to determine what the actual meaning of the disputed term is. Outside evidence may be anything from correspondence between the parties, witnesses or simply the facts surrounding the divorce negotiations.
This type of litigation in a divorce matter can result in significantly increasing the cost to both parties. This type of issue must be decided by trial, which means the court will hold hearings and the judge will make the final determination. The process can be time-consuming and expensive. As a result, it is extremely important to retain an experienced divorce attorney to represent you in your divorce and in drafting your settlement agreement. The money you spend in the beginning to ensure that everything is done correctly may save you thousands of dollars in the future by preventing disputes.
Contact the knowledgeable attorneys at the Men’s Divorce Law Firm. Our office is located in Orlando, Florida, but we proudly serve husbands and fathers across the State.