FAMILY COURT – SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
A Family Court Settlement Agreement is typically referred to as an “MSA” or Marital Settlement Agreement. A Marital Settlement Agreement can be a vital tool in resolving undisputed issues such as Spousal Support, Child Support, Business Valuations, Asset Distributions and obligations for Marital Debts. A Marital Settlement Agreement will eliminate some or all of the issues which will need to be decided through a trial and will result in less time and expense to both parties. Only matters which cannot be agreed upon need to be set for trial and decided by the Judge. https://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-divorce.htm Our aim as your attorney will be to resolve the uncontested issues to save you time and money and focus our time and your money on the issues which are in dispute.
A key difference between a Marital Settlement Agreement and a Civil Litigation Settlement Agreement is that the parties to a Dissolution of Marriage proceeding owe each other fiduciary duties. As a party to the Dissolution of Marriage proceedings you owe at a minimum the following fiduciary duties:
(b) Except as provided in Sections 143, 144, 146, 16040, 16047, and 21385 of the Probate Code, in transactions between themselves, spouses are subject to the general rules governing fiduciary relationships that control the actions of persons occupying confidential relations with each other. This confidential relationship imposes a duty of the highest good faith and fair dealing on each spouse, and neither shall take any unfair advantage of the other. This confidential relationship is a fiduciary relationship subject to the same rights and duties of nonmarital business partners, as provided in Sections 16403, 16404, and 16503 of the Corporations Code, including, but not limited to, the following:
(1) Providing each spouse access at all times to any books kept regarding a transaction for the purposes of inspection and copying.
(2) Rendering upon request, true and full information of all things affecting any transaction that concerns the community property. Nothing in this section is intended to impose a duty for either spouse to keep detailed books and records of community property transactions.
(3) Accounting to the spouse, and holding as a trustee, any benefit or profit derived from any transaction by one spouse without the consent of the other spouse that concerns the community property.
The significance of these fiduciary duties is that you must honestly disclose all of your financial interests including both community property and separate property. Failure to honestly disclose your financial interests if discovered by the opposing party can result in a Motion to Vacate and Set Aside the Marital Settlement Agreement and monetary sanctions.
Of course, there are limitations on the extent and scope of these fiduciary duties but those matters are beyond the scope of this article. For more details on the exact nature of the fiduciary duties which are applicable to your Dissolution of Marriage proceedings or to consult with the Law Offices of Sam Walker regarding your specific situation please use our contact form to schedule a free 15-minute telephonic consultation.