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Interpretation of a Marital Settlement Agreement

February 28, 2018 by  
Filed under Uncategorized



It is a well known fact that most cases resolve without the need to go to trial.  Often times cases resolve at mediation.  But that does not necessarily mean that there will not be litigation as to the interpretation or enforcement of a settlement agreement or mediation agreement later on.

For instance, in Rose v. Rose the parties entered into a mediated agreement where the wife could have exclusive use and possession of the former marital home until the parties daughter finished her four year college degree.  The agreement also stated that on sale of the home the proceeds would be slit evenly between the parties.  That sounds simple enough doesn’t it?

Well not quite.  The former wife took the position after the parties daughter had finished her four year college degree that the agreement did not specifically say that the home then had to be sold at that time or any other time.  It took a trial court’s and then an appellate court’s rulings to determine that the timing of the sale though not specifically stated was sufficiently stated to be enforceable as the home should be sold once the parties daughter had finished her four year college degree.

Even after the appellate Court made this ruling the case was sent back to the trial court to determine if the former husband had repudiated the mediated agreement by failing to make payments due under it.

So if you are entering into a settlement agreement keep in mind issues as to the agreement’s meaning and interpretation may come up later so you need to spell out as accurately and in as much detail as you can what is being agreed to.  It is best not to cut corners, spend the time, and have your attorney review it.



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