Peter Russo – FAQs

1. What is a marital settlement agreement in a divorce?


A marital settlement agreement is the document that explains how former spouses in an uncontested divorce are to act following their divorce. It details information about the division of assets, debts, and property and spousal support. The document is a legal contract and both parties are expected to abide by the agreement. If one chooses not to do so, the other can take the matter up with the court.

2. What happens to retirement funds and 401(k) plans in a divorce?


In most cases, retirement fund and 401(k) plans will be treated the same as all other marital property in a divorce. Essentially, that anything acquired with a spouse’s earnings after the marriage date is marital property unless a prenuptial agreement stipulates otherwise. This includes retirement funds because they are funded with money you have earned during the marriage. In general, this means they are divisible in a divorce, but exactly how they are handled varies from case to case.

3. What happens if a spouse refuses a divorce?


The primary problem that occurs when one spouses refuses a divorce is the process becomes more complicated and takes longer to complete. How complicated and how much time it takes to finalize the process varies from state to state and judge to judge. You might be granted an uncontested divorce or be able to obtain something known as a default divorce, which means the spouse that does not respond gives up all rights to have any say about the divorce proceedings.

4. What are the benefits of mediation?


Mediation offers a variety of benefits, especially when it comes to family law issues including divorce. It can make the process less contentious and allow everyone to express their concerns and desires. It usually takes less time to complete than litigation and it puts the parties in direct control of the outcome of the situation. It is private and prevents personal matters from becoming a matter of public record. Finally, mediation tends to be less expensive than litigation.

5. Can child support payments be made directly between parents or do they have to be paid through the state?


It depends on the specific child support orders, but usually payments are taken straight out of the paying parent’s paycheck and not paid directly to the custodial parent. Rarely are payments made directly to the child. If a wishes to pay the child directly, he or she must petition the court to amend the original order. If that order is not amended any payments made are considered gifts and the noncustodial parent can still be held responsible for support owed.