A Marital Termination Agreement (MTA) is a contract that contains the agreements of the parties regarding all of the issues relative to the Divorce proceeding. It basically states the terms to which each party has agreed, and has the ability to eliminate the need of going to a hearing. When both spouses and their respective lawyers (if they have attorneys) sign this legal document, it can be submitted to the Court along with a proposed Divorce Decree (it includes same provisions as the MTA). If the Court approves of the Marital Termination Agreement, it will sign off on the proposed Divorce Decree. It usually works so that if attorneys represent both sides, no hearing is required. If only one side is represented, and there are minor children involved in the proceeding, there is a short hearing required by the Court, which is referred to as a “Default Hearing.” At that hearing, the Court confirms the terms of the Marital Termination Agreement and issues a Divorce Decree that is consistent with the said document. Most cases will settle out of Court and are finalized with the execution of a Marital Termination Agreement.
The Marital Termination Agreement can be executed at any time (e.g. immediately after the Divorce is commenced, during the middle of the proceeding or right before the trial). The sooner the MTA is signed, the more costs and fees are saved by both parties. However, it is very important to obtain the requisite information and legal advice before an important and serious document of this nature is negotiated and signed.