Friday, May 25, 2012
By: Obi Chukwu
The marriage contract is more than an important agreement; it symbolizes a coupleâ€™s commitment to one another and their vow to spend the rest of their lives with each other.Â For different reasons, however, a marriage may come to an end, regardless of the best intentions and efforts; the marriage does not always survive the intent of the parties involved.
When irreconcilable differences lead a married couple to end their relationship, there are a number of ways to formally end the marriage.Â Parties can choose to file a joint petition for divorce when they both agree on the terms of the divorce, in lieu of a contested divorce battle in the courts.Â Parties can also enter into a written agreement to end their marriage with little court involvement.Â Divorce proceedings often take a long time and can be a difficult and expensive experience, particularly if there are children, business assets, and real property involved.Â In cases where there are disagreements, Minnesota courts allow couples the option of Early Neutral Evaluations (ENE) to find how to best resolve some of the challenging issues in the divorce.Â These evaluations lessen the impact of a prolonged process prior to having the matter brought before the court.
A Marital Termination Agreement (MTA) is an additional method to resolve a marriage amicably between divorcing couples.Â An MTA is an ideal option in cases where a couple wants to end their marriage in a friendly and fair manner. The MTA is a written agreement entered into between divorcing couples detailing how they wish to share their joint or marital assets, and/or resolve custody issues if children are involved.Â It is then presented to the court for approval and to be incorporated into the courtâ€™s judgment and decree ending the marital relationship.
Is a Marital Termination Agreement Right for Me?
There are several factors to consider when deciding whether you and a divorcing spouse should prepare and enter into an MTA.Â One of the most important factors is whether both parties agree on all issues regarding the divorce.Â Some of these issues include how to fairly share all the marital assets, the parenting and custody arrangements if children are involved, child support and child care, health coverage, etc.Â In cases involving children, a Marriage Termination Agreement must also address how child support payments are to be made, how conflicts involving custody will be resolved, income tax child dependency exemptions, health insurance coverage for minor children, amongst others.
Furthermore, depending on the particular circumstances, the parties to an MTA may have to make a decision in regards to spousal maintenance or alimony.Â If they choose to not have either side responsible for spousal support, then they must include a Karon waiver in the agreement.Â A Karon waiver is a mutual disclaimer stating that neither side will be required to pay spousal maintenance and that the court shall not have the power to review the waiver.Â The waiver must be based on adequate consideration, full disclosure of each partyâ€™s financial circumstances, property division and the partiesâ€™ agreement that the MTA is fair and equitable.
Parties who chose to use an MTA must affirm in the agreement that they have read, understood, and given serious consideration to its contents.Â They must agree that it is fair and equitable under the circumstances, and that it has been made to allow an orderly and just determination of the property settlement and resolution of the relevant issues in a manner satisfactory to both parties.Â A Marital Termination Agreement may not be appropriate for certain divorcing couples who do not have children or assets together.Â Those with limited joint assets may be better off filing a joint petition for dissolution instead of an MTA.
What to Do
If you find yourself involved in a divorce, contact an experienced family lawyer immediately, particularly if you are not a U.S. citizen and a divorce may have consequences on your immigration status.Â Consult with an attorney who has the experience and knowledge it takes to understand what kind of divorce process is best suited for your particular situation and how it can affect your immigration and other family law cases.
If you have questions about a divorce, its immigration consequences, or any other issues in this article, contact an experienced family law attorney.Â Consult a family lawyer to determine what process is relevant to your particular case or situation or for any of the issues raised in this article.
Nothing in this article should be taken as legal advice for an individual case or situation.Â The information is intended to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation.Â For legal advice, consult an attorney experienced in family law.