The Martital Settlement Agreement, or "MSA", is the document which spells out the terms of your divorce and, if there are minor children, will also spell out all terms related to the children either in the agreement itself or in a separate Joint Parenting Agreement or Custody Judgment.
The Marital Settlment Agreement can be thought of as a divorce contract, although it is never called that. It is a signed agreement between you and your soon to be ex-spouse which details the negotiated settlement terms such as what happens to the house, how the debt is divided, whether or not maintenance is paid, etc. Assuming that the agreement is not unconscionable ("shocking to the consceince"), it will normally be approved by your judge when you go in to have the divorce made final, becoming legally enforceable.
The MSA is probably the most important document to get right in the whole process. MSA's which do not account for everything or which are ambigously written are asking for problems later on down the road. Even if you and your soon to be ex are in agreement on the terms of your divorce, it is best to leave the drafting of the marital settlement agreement to an experienced divorce lawyer. It could save you countless aggravation and expense down the road if mistakes have to be fixed or ambiguities resolved.
At O'Connor Cadiz Law, we are here to help. Call us at 630 250-8813 if you need help drafting an MSA or reviewing one that may have been presented to you by your spouse's lawyer.