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Massachusetts Divorce Resources

From the Law Office of Robert P. Murray

©2004 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Robert P. Murray, Esquire


Divorce Agreement Checklist

For Use with a No-Fault Divorce with Agreement

The following issues should be given careful consideration for inclusion in a well-drafted Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. This checklist is by no means exhaustive, since every divorce action is unique. Most of these terms may have subtle but dramatic and long-lasting legal effects. Additionally, each party’s financial picture is different. For these reasons, it is NOT recommended that the parties draft their own Agreement. Every agreement should be carefully drafted in light of the financial data of the parties and reviewed separately by each party with his or her respective counsel.

GENERAL TERMS

1. Parties: names and addresses (including Counties)

2. Date & Place of Marriage

3. Names and dates of birth of children

4. Acknowledgment of irretrievable breakdown and intention to live apart

5. Date of separation and location of last joint residence

6. Purpose of Agreement and intent of parties

7. Consideration

8. Merger vs. non-merger

 

SPECIFIC ISSUES

CHILDREN

9. Custody

a.) Joint or individual legal custody

b.) Joint or individual physical custody

c.) Procedure for making major decisions

d.) Parental access to all academic, physical, emotional and social information: parental permission to review all school, medical, dental and other written reports and to consult with professionals rendering services to child

e.) Procedure for authorizing emergency medical treatment

10. Support

a.) Amount

b.) Payment frequency/dates

c.) Method of payment (cash, check, payroll deduction, etc.)

d.) Duration (define emancipation events)

e.) Payment through Dept. of Revenue?

f.) Futute Modifications

g.) Support arrangement during extended visitation periods

11. Visitation

a.) Schedule

b.) Expenses of travel for visitation

c.) Vacations/holidays

d.) Temporary removal from Commonwealth for vacations

e.) Permanent removal by physical custodian

f.) Out-of-State move by non-custodial parent

g.) Interference with school/social/sport activities

h.) Advance notice requirements

12. Medical/dental insurance

a.) Who is to obtain/maintain policy

b.) Name of insurer

c.) Policy or certificate number, if any

d.) Duration of coverage

e.) Availability of Claim forms

f.) Cooperation in preparation/submission of claims

g.) Substitution of policies

h.) Coverage issues:

Orthodontic

Psychological or psychiatric expenses

In-patient facilities

Obligation to utilize designated facilities

Counseling services

Non-prescription drugs

Optometrist and eyeglasses

Laboratory expenses

i.) Approval for extraordinary expenses

j.) Approval for emergency expenses

13. Uninsured medical/dental expenses: see above, plus:

a.) Who is responsible for

b.) Policy deductibles

c.) Agreement as to submission of bills to each party

d.) Procedure for dispute resolution

e.) Agreement as to elective treatments

f.) Agreement as to emergency treatments

g.) Agreement as to exchanging health information

14. Dependency exemptions for tax purposes

15. Higher education; cooperation in obtaining financial aid

a.) Private school education

b.) Nature and extent of education for each child

c.) Types of schools

d.) Payment of costs

e.) Agreement to provide accounting for educational costs

f.) Agreement to exchange information

g.) Right to participate in choice

h.) Procedure for resolving disputes

i.) Provisions for College costs

j.) Define college expenses: room, board, tuition, books, fees, transportation

k.) In event of death of one parent, estate responsible for such expenses?

l.) Educational trust fund?

m.) Use of children’s assets?

n.) Religious upbringing

16. Determination of emancipation events

MEDICAL/DENTAL INSURANCE COVERAGES/COSTS OF PARTIES

17. See above. Is coverage available after the divorce?

a.) Who is to obtain/maintain/pay for policy

b.) Name of insurer

c.) Policy or certificate number, if any

d.) Duration of coverage

e.) Claim forms

f.) Cooperation in preparation/submission of claims

g.) Substitution of policies

h.) Coverage issues, if any

i.) Obligation to notify if coverage to terminate

j.) Rights to pay additional costs of premium

k.) Substitution of policies

18. Uninsured medical/dental expenses

a.) Who is responsible for (each for own??)

b.) Agreement as to submission of bills to each party

LIFE INSURANCE

a. Ownership of policies

b. Assignment of policies

c. Borrowing powers against policies/right to encumber

d. Beneficiaries

e. Face values & right to reduce face value

f. Payment of premium

g. Indemnification for failure to maintain policies

h. Right to substitute policies

i. Right to establish trust fund by life insurance proceeds in event of death of insured

j. Name of insured

k. Possession of policies

l. Presentation of evidence of existence of insurance

PERSONAL PROPERTY

19. Provisions for allocation and division of:

a.) Cash, checking and savings accounts

b.) Securities, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.

c.) Certificates of Deposit/Money market funds

d.) Furniture/other household furnishings

e.) Children’s furniture/furnishings

f.) Tools, equipment, lawn tools/equipment

g.) Works of Art

h.) Antiques/heirlooms

i.) Burial plots

j.) RETIREMENT FUNDS/BENEFITS

1.) I.R.A.’s

2.) Pensions

3.) S.E.P. Accounts

4.) Profit sharing/bonus rights

5.) Stock options

k.) Family pets

l.) Rights to deferred compensation

m.) Choses in action (Civil claims against 3rd persons)

n.) Memberships in country clubs, etc.

o.) Automobiles, boats

p.) Corporate/partnership interests

q.) Sole proprietorship business interests

r.) Life insurance (cash surrender values)

s.) Monies owed to parties by 3rd persons

REAL PROPERTY (Obtain copies of all deeds, mortgages, Registry of Deeds title references, statements of outstanding mortgage balances, real estate tax status)

20. AGREEMENT TO HOLD???

a. Possession/use/occupancy of real estate

b. Duration of possession/use/occupancy

c. Obligation to vacate timely

d. Restriction from conveyance

e. Death of either party

f. Agreement not to force sale

g. Agreement not to initiate petition to partition

h. Satisfaction of past or future liens

i. Agreement not to further encumber

j. Requirement to maintain insurance

k. Payment of principal, interest and taxes

l. Payment of utilities and other expenses

m. Agreement to pay for routine maintenance

n. Agreement relative to capital improvements

o. Agreement relative to major repairs (in excess of set dollar amount)

p. Provisions in event of non-compliance

q. Indemnification in event of non-compliance

r. Right of spouse to enter/inspect

s. Restrictions as to tenants, visitors, roommates

t. Distribution of proceeds of rent/income

21. AGREEMENT TO SELL??

a. Current fair market value

b. Satisfaction of past liens and encumbrances

c. Satisfaction of standard closing costs/expenses

d. Distribution of proceeds of sale

1.) Credits for reduction in principal balance on mortgage

2.) Credits for capital improvements which increase value of property

e. Rights of each party to purchase to other’s interest

MISCELLANEOUS

22. Income taxes/returns – Joint / Separate filing??

a.) Tax allocation of alimony

b.) Agreement as to filing of past, present and future returns

c.) Cooperation in preparation

d.) Allocation of past & future income tax refunds/liability for taxes due?

23. Waiver of interest in estate of other party

24. Allocation of responsibility for past & outstanding debts

25. Indemnification against incurring future debts

26. Satisfaction of all other rights & obligations of parties

27. Agreement as to only those issues set forth in Agreement

28. Submission to jurisdiction of Court

29. Waiver of claims to other’s estate

30. Full disclosure of income, assets, liabilities and expenses of each to the other: exchange of Financial Statements

31. Opportunity to consult with an independent attorney

32. Read and understand Agreement

33. No extrinsic representations or inducements

34. No coercion or duress

35. Signing freely and voluntarily

If Alimony

a. Periodic support

1. When payments begin

2. How often payments are made

3. Amount

4. When payments terminate & conditions for termination

a) Remarriage issues

b) Disability of a party

c) Cost of living increases

d) Percentage of living increases/decreases

e) Retirement of a party

f) Increased income of payee

g) Change in residence

h) Material change in circumstance

i) Sale of real estate or other property

j) Children no longer in physical custody of payee

k) Death of a party

l) Penalties for late payment

m) Allocation of payments for tax purposes

n) Alternatives to periodic support

1. Payment of principal, interest, and/or taxes on real estate or other liabilities

2. Lump sum payment

3. Conveyance of real estate

4. Minimum net support

5. Maximum net payment

6. Determination of remarriage

7. Discharge of obligation in bankruptcy

8. Security for payment of support