Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA): Why is an MSA Important in a Divorce Case in Kendall County?

Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA)

Yorkville and Kendall County Dissolution of Marriage Attorneys

In a divorce proceeding, otherwise known as a “dissolution of marriage”, a Marital Settlement Agreement is the written settlement agreement, which outlines the terms of the divorce settlement. Generally, there are several documents that outline the finalization of a divorce in Kendall County. These documents include the following:
• Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage
• Marital Settlement Agreement
• Allocation Judgments or Parenting Plans
• Certificate of Dissolution
• Parenting Class Completion Proof

What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?

A Marital Settlement Agreement, otherwise called an MSA is a detailed settlement agreement which summarizes the financial settlement terms of the divorce. The Marital Settlement Agreement is generally drafted by each party in the divorce and reviewed by the attorneys. Often, the terms of the MSA are modified to protect the interests of the parents.

The Marital Settlement Agreement must be signed by the parties. An MSA is an enforceable contract. The Kendall County Court will maintain jurisdiction over the MSA to enforce the terms of the MSA. If one party breaches the terms of the MSA, that party may file a Petition for Indirect Civil Contempt and file an appropriate notice of motion to have the court enforce the terms of the MSA. The terms of the MSA must be entered and accepted as a court order prior to either party being able to enforce the terms of the MSA as a court order.

The MSA is incorporated into the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage. Incorporating the MSA into the Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage makes the MSA an enforceable written contract, which either party may enforce. A court order in a dissolution of marriage case is an important document because the Kendall County Court has significant enforcement power.

Typical matters addressed in the MSA include:

  • Property Division such as financial accounts, real estate, bank accounts, business interests and other property division matters
  • The Division of Liabilities such as income taxes, division of property taxes, responsibilities for payment of mortgages, car debts, and other loans and liability concerns
  • Spousal Support, otherwise known as “Alimony” calculations
  • Calculation of Child Support and Children’s Expenses such as the determination of extracurricular, education, and healthcare expenses for children
  • Children’s College and Post-Education Expenses including the division and payment of these expenses
  • Terms of Children’s Emancipation
  • Terms of how Tax Returns and taxes will be filed and handled. For example, whether a joint tax return will be filed or if each married person will file separate tax returns
  • Indemnification Provisions, which requires one party to pay the other party in case of a loss as a result of that party breaching the terms of the MSA
  • Division of Real Property such as whether one party will refinance the family residence, whether the real property will be sold, and how the sale of real estate will be divided among the parties
  • Personal Property Settlements such as how household items such as furniture, jewelry, televisions, and other items will be properly divided and split
  • Payment and Allocation of Attorney’s Fees including the ability of either party to have a hearing on the contribution of attorney’s fees; and
  • Mutual Releases and Critical Terms such as both parties will mutually release the other party, waiver of estate claims, governing law, captions and construction of the terms of the Marital Settlement Agreement, and how the document may be modified.

What is a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage?

A Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage is the final document in a divorce case. A Judgment for Dissolution summarizes that the key elements required for a dissolution of marriage are met in Illinois. The Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage contains the following key information:

  • The Party’s names and whether they are represented by counsel
  • Jurisdictional Requirements are met
  • Petitioner and Respondent have resided in the State of Illinois for at least 90 days prior to the filing of this action
  • The date of the marriage including the city and county
  • Whether children were born or adopted to the marriage, including the names and ages of children and whether the children are emancipated
  • Irreconcilable differences and difficulties have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and future efforts at reconciliation are impracticable and not in the best interests of either party
  • The Petitioner has provided the material allegations of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage by competent and relevant evidence and a Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage should be entered
  • The Parties have entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement, concerning the rights of each party and to the income, estate, and property, which either of them own or may hereinafter acquire
  • Incorporation of the Parenting Plan or Allocation Judgment for Enforceability; and
  • The reservation of rights to continue the wife’s maiden name


What is a Parenting Plan or otherwise known as an “Allocation Judgment”?

A Parenting Plan or otherwise known as the “Allocation Judgment” is only necessary when there are minor or disabled adult children. An Allocation Judgment dictates how the significant decision-making responsibilities, parenting visitation schedule, and other decisions are made. The Allocation Agreement is contained in 735 ILCS 5/602.10. The Parenting Plans created in this agreement are valid while the children are minors and become emancipated or one or both of the parties modify the critical terms of the Allocation Judgment. Generally, modifications of the parenting plan are not allowed within two years after a Parenting Plan is ordered in a divorce case in Kendall County.

The purpose of the Allocation Agreement is to minimize conflicts between the divorcing parents. The Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage also outlines the terms of the Allocation Judgment and the Allocation Judgment is an enforceable court order similar to an MSA. The old terms of custody have been replaced with the terms “Allocation of Parental Responsibilities.” The purpose of the change in law was to diminish all or nothing losers in a dissolution of marriage case. The terms “sole custody” and “joint custody” are no longer recognized in Illinois. Now, different parents may be allocated different parenting responsibilities versus losing all of their significant parenting decisions as the past.

Requirements for a Parenting Plan in Yorkville, Oswego, and Kendall County
An Allocation Judgment details the parenting plan details such as the following issues:

  • How parents will make significant education decision-making such as the choice of schools, tutors, and educational decision-making
  • Health-related decision-making such as how medical, dental and psychological decision-making such as surgeries, routine, and extraordinary healthcare decisions are made
  • Religion decision-making such as what religion will be acknowledged and how parents should make religion decisions
  • Extracurricular activities such as how decisions relating to extracurricular activities and sports will be made

The Parenting Plan, otherwise known as the “Allocation Judgment” or “Allocation Agreement” summarizes, which parent or parents have key decision-making in these four (4) significant parental decision-making responsibilities. One of the critical purposes of well-written Parenting Plans is to outline child custody, decision-making, and child/children visitation schedules. The Allocation Judgment also will outline how parents will share key holidays and critical dates involving the children such as their birthdays, holidays, and other important dates.

Parenting Classes in Yorkville and Kendall County

Parenting classes are required in Dissolution of Marriage cases in Illinois and in Yorkville and Kendall County. The purpose of parenting classes is to reduce marital strife that involves children, diminish the necessity for court involvement, and educate parents about the court process.

In Kendall County, judges are most concerned with the welfare of children of divorce. Parenting classes are mandatory in Yorkville and Kendall County. The parenting class is intended to educate the parents about the impacts on divorce on the children.

In Kendall County, parenting classes are offered in three (3) places:

What is a Certificate of Dissolution in Kendall County?

A Certificate of Dissolution is a State of Illinois form required to be filled out in Illinois divorce cases. A Certificate of Dissolution is required by the Illinois Department of Public Health Division of Vital Records, which maintains accurate Dissolution of Marriage records in the State of Illinois and Kendall County. Each Circuit Court is responsible for requiring parties involved in a Marriage Dissolution case to fill out these forms prior to the finalization of the divorce process in Kendall County.

Skilled and Experienced Yorkville and Kendall County Divorce and Child Support Attorneys

Sean Robertson and the attorneys and staff of Gateville Law Firm concentrate in Kendall County Dissolution of Marriage, Child Support, Spousal Support, and Divorce legal representation. We are highly skilled and responsive attorneys and law firm that represent parties in Kendall County and nearby counties. Our attorneys and staff are reputable and have significant experience and expertise in the areas of drafting and modifying marital settlement agreements and other matters in Kendall County, Illinois. We regularly represent people in Kendall County including those in Oswego, Plano, Plainfield, Joliet, Yorkville, Bristol, Newark, Montgomery, and Aurora, Illinois. Our attorneys handle the following types of divorce-related issues:

  • Filing of Divorces including Petitions for Dissolution of Marriage (and responses to them)
  • Addressing Child Support and Modification of Child Support and Custody Decision Making
  • Pre-Decree and Post-Decree Divorce and Dissolution of Marriage cases in Kendall County, Illinois
  • QUADRO and Division of Retirement and Pension Plans’ Assistance
  • Drafting of Marital Settlement Agreements and Joint Parenting Plans
  • Uncontested or Collaborative Divorces in Yorkville and Kendall County
  • Petitions for Indirect Civil Contempt and Enforcement Matters (and Defenses to Them)
  • Adoption Cases
  • Family Law; Paternity and Guardianship Cases
  • Order of Protection Issues


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