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Enforcing Marital Settlement Agreements

A Marital Settlement Agreement is an agreement that the parties have reached to divide their assets and liabilities, any claims to alimony, and other matters at issue in their divorce proceedings. Most of the time, parties abide by the terms of the Marital Settlement Agreement (hereinafter “MSA”). However, there are occasions when a party may breach the terms of the MSA, either voluntarily or involuntarily.
One common scenario occurs when a party has agreed to refinance the marital residence from joint names into his or her individual name, but the party is subsequently unable to do so. Another common example that occurs is when a party fails to transfer funds or personal property to the other party as agreed upon in the MSA.
In some instances, parties may be able to reach a resolution out of court. For example, in the instance described above wherein a party fails to refinance the marital residence as agreed, the parties may choose to sell the residence, or the non-breaching party may agree to make concessions such as extending the timeline for the other party to refinance. If the parties are able to reach a resolution, it is possible for the parties to sign an amended MSA with the changes they have agreed upon.
Whatever the breach may be, the non-breaching party also has the option to ask the Court to enforce the MSA. In most cases, the Court will enforce an MSA, unless the MSA was obtained through fraud or duress or is otherwise void or voidable. The Court may also choose to award counsel fees to the non-breaching party to compensate the non-breaching party for having to file the Petition with the court.
If you are concerned that the opposing party is violating the terms of your MSA, or if you have any other questions about MSAs or divorce in general, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Tanner Law Offices to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys at (717) 731-8114.