What Should You Ask For In a Divorce Settlement?

What Should You Ask For In a Divorce Settlement?

Going through a divorce is undoubtedly one of life's most challenging experiences, both emotionally and legally. When it comes to the legal aspects of divorce, a pivotal component is the divorce settlement or marital settlement agreement (MSA). This comprehensive document outlines the terms and conditions of your divorce, covering essential aspects like asset division, alimony, child custody, and support. It's a road map for your post-divorce life, and crafting it wisely can make all the difference. In this article, we'll explore what to ask for in a divorce settlement to ensure your financial stability, legal security, and peace of mind.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Divorce Settlement Importance:

    • A divorce settlement, or Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), is crucial as it outlines the terms of a divorce including asset division, alimony, child custody and support ensuring financial stability and legal security post-divorce.
  2. Components of a Divorce Settlement:

    • Parenting Time: A detailed parenting-time schedule to promote stability for children.
    • Alimony and Child Support: Clear provisions for alimony and child support including payment schedules and conditions for termination or adjustment.
    • Life Insurance: Provision for maintaining life insurance, designating the other spouse as the beneficiary for financial security.
    • Retirement Accounts: Addressing the division of retirement accounts for financial stability later in life.
    • Child Tax Credits: Considerations on claiming children as dependents for tax purposes.
    • Division of Property: Equitable distribution of marital property, specifying what constitutes marital property and how it will be divided.
  3. Legal Assistance in New Jersey:

    • A divorce lawyer in New Jersey can provide essential guidance during the divorce settlement process, facilitating negotiations, mediating disputes, and representing clients in court to achieve a fair resolution.

What is a Divorce Settlement?

A divorce settlement, also known as a marital settlement agreement (MSA), is a comprehensive legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of a divorce between two spouses. It is a written contract that details the agreements reached by both parties concerning various aspects of their divorce, including the division of assets and debts, spousal support (alimony), child custody, child support, and any other issues relevant to the dissolution of their marriage.

In a divorce settlement, the parties involved negotiate and come to a mutual agreement regarding how they will resolve these matters without the need for a court trial. The settlement is typically created with the assistance of attorneys representing each spouse and, in some cases, through mediation or collaborative divorce processes. Once both parties agree on the terms, the settlement is submitted to the court for approval. If the court finds the agreement fair and legally sound, it becomes part of the divorce judgment, making the terms legally binding for both parties.

A divorce settlement aims to provide a clear and structured framework for the separation of assets and responsibilities, thereby reducing the need for litigation and court intervention. By addressing various divorce-related issues in the settlement, it helps ensure that both spouses are aware of their rights and obligations after the divorce and provides a sense of closure to the marriage, allowing both parties to move forward independently.

What to Ask for in a Divorce Settlement

Let’s look at several things to include in your martial settlement agreement. Including these will ensure that you and your family remain financially stable and secure after the divorce is finalized.

1. Parenting Time

Establishing a detailed parenting-time schedule is pivotal in promoting stability and well-being for your children, especially during the challenging period of divorce. Even in cases where divorcing couples maintain an amicable relationship, unexpected conflicts can arise concerning parenting time. By incorporating a well-structured parenting-time plan into your settlement, you can preempt potential conflicts and ensure a nurturing environment for your children, particularly during critical holidays and special occasions. A well-documented parenting-time schedule can facilitate a smoother co-parenting dynamic, ensuring that both parents have ample time to foster a strong and healthy relationship with their children.

2. Alimony and Child Support

Clarity and specificity in the provisions for alimony and child support are essential for ensuring financial stability for both parties involved. Clearly outline the current income calculations, payment schedules, and conditions under which the support may cease. It is crucial to specify the reasons for the termination of alimony, such as the supported spouse's remarriage or the unfortunate demise of either party, to provide financial clarity and security for both individuals post-divorce.

Additionally, including provisions for potential adjustments to support payments in response to significant changes in financial circumstances can help mitigate future disputes and ensure ongoing financial stability for all parties involved.

3. Life Insurance

Incorporating a provision mandating the maintenance of life insurance in your divorce settlement is critical, especially when one party is responsible for providing financial support. Designating the other spouse as the policy beneficiary offers an added layer of financial security for both children and the supported spouse in the event of the supporting spouse's unforeseen passing. This provision guarantees continued financial stability and security, ensuring that the children and supported spouse receive necessary financial support even in the face of unexpected circumstances. Additionally, including specific guidelines on the required coverage amount and the duration of the policy can provide further assurance of long-term financial protection for the beneficiaries.

4. Retirement Accounts

You want to make sure that you have financial stability later in life. That is why you need to discuss retirement accounts in the divorce settlement. Addressing the division of retirement accounts in a clear and strategic manner is crucial to ensure an equitable distribution of assets. Identifying and detailing all relevant retirement assets, including pensions and 401k accounts, and stipulating the process for their division, is critical. Clarify the responsibilities associated with the preparation of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), along with the party accountable for associated costs.

5. Child Tax Credits

Divorcing couples must consider the implications of claiming children as dependents for tax purposes. Current tax regulations stipulate that a child can only be claimed as a dependent on one parent's tax return, with the associated tax credit applying to the claiming party.

While some couples may opt to share dependency exemptions, certain factors may complicate this decision. Discrepancies in the number of children, differing income levels, and other specific circumstances can influence the feasibility of equitable tax credit distribution. Additionally, the provisions outlined in Section 504 of the IRS tax code for Divorced and Separated Individuals affect the eligibility for claiming the status of Head of Household.

Age gaps between children further complicate the duration of child tax credit entitlement for each parent. For many couples, a viable solution may involve alternating the claiming of dependents annually to ensure fairness.

6. Division of Property

Being that New Jersey has equitable distribution, you want to use it to your advantage, particularly when it comes to the division of property. After all, the equitable distribution of assets allows individuals to maintain a certain level of financial independence and security, enabling them to move forward confidently after the dissolution of the marriage.

However, it is important to note that only marital property is subject to division. This may include:

  • Martial home and real estate
  • Debts and liabilities
  • Financial assets
  • Personal property
  • Inheritance and gifts
  • Business interests

Make sure you address the division of property early on. This ensures that both parties can work towards an amicable resolution, minimizing the need for lengthy court battles and reducing the emotional and financial strain associated with contentious legal proceedings.

How Can a Divorce Lawyer in NJ Help With Divorce Settlements?

A divorce lawyer in New Jersey offers essential guidance and knowledge during the divorce settlement process. They facilitate negotiations and mediate disputes, striving to achieve a fair and amicable resolution between spouses. With a deep understanding of New Jersey's family law, they provide valuable assistance in asset evaluation, property division, child custody arrangements, and alimony determinations. Additionally, they can represent clients in court, ensuring that their interests are effectively advocated for during legal proceedings.

Contact a NJ Divorce Lawyer Today

Navigating the complexities of a divorce settlement can be overwhelming, but with the right legal guidance, you can secure a brighter future for yourself and your family. The experienced divorce lawyers at Ziegler Law Group, LLC are here to assist you through this challenging time. Don't hesitate to contact us today at 973-533-1100 or by filling out the contact form. Your divorce settlement is not just a legal document; it's your path to a fresh start. Make sure it's designed to support your best interests.


  1. What is a Divorce Settlement?

    • A divorce settlement, also known as a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), is a legal document that outlines the terms and conditions of a divorce including asset division, alimony, child custody, and support.
  2. Why is a Divorce Settlement important?

    • It provides a clear framework for post-divorce life, ensuring financial stability, legal security, and helps in reducing the need for litigation and court intervention.
  3. What should be included in a Divorce Settlement?

    • Key components include parenting time schedule, provisions for alimony and child support, life insurance maintenance, division of retirement accounts, child tax credits, and division of property.
  4. How can a divorce lawyer in New Jersey assist with divorce settlements?

    • They can facilitate negotiations, mediate disputes, provide valuable assistance in asset evaluation, property division, child custody arrangements, and represent clients in court to ensure fair resolutions.
  5. What constitutes marital property in a Divorce Settlement in New Jersey?

    • Marital property may include marital home, real estate, debts, financial assets, personal property, inheritance, gifts, and business interests.

For the general public: This Blog/Website is made available by the law firm publisher, Ziegler Law Group LLC for information and educational purposes only. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law but does not provide specific legal advice to any reader. By using this site, commenting on posts, or sending inquiries through the site or contact email, you confirm that there is no attorney-client relationship created between you and the Blog/Website publisher. The Blog/Website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice you obtain from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

For attorneys: This Blog/Website is informational in nature and is not a substitute for legal research or a consultation/representation on specific matters pertaining to your clients. Due to the dynamic nature of legal doctrines or the current law what might be upheld or viable one day may be changed or modified the next. As such, all of the content of this entire blog must not be relied upon as a basis for arguments to a court or for specific individualized advice to clients without, again, further research or a formal consultation with our professionals.

Related Posts
  • What Happens if One Spouse has Substantial Debts or Liabilities in a High-Income Divorce in New Jersey? Read More
  • How to Prepare for a Contested Divorce in New Jersey Read More
  • The Advantages and Disadvantages of a Sleep Divorce Read More