Frequently Asked Questions about California Marital Separation Agreements

Q. Is an MSA required in California?
Q. What is a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement  (MSA)?
Q. Why is a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement important?
Q. Do I have to file a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement with the Court?
Q. What is the difference between a contested or uncontested divorce?
Q. How long are the parties bound by a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement?
Q. Do the courts review the fairness of a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement?
Q. What is the difference between "marital property" and "non-marital property"?

The Marital Separation and Property Separation Agreement (MSA) that you create using Rapidocs within this web site will cover every major circumstance and enable you to deal with the following issues:

  • Visitation
  • Child Support Payments Under California Law
  • Spousal Maintenance Under California Law
  • Property Division
  • Division of Debts
  • Health Insurance
  • Disposition of the Marital Home
  • Pension Plans
  • Tax Issues
  • Future Dispute Settlement

You can assemble your MSA before and review your language before you purchase it with your credit card and you can amend the MSA after you purchase it any time.

Ordinarily you execute an MSA before you file your divorce papers, normally at the time that you separate.

This allows you to negotiate and execute your MSA and then to file for your divorce as soon as the waiting period has been completed.


Q. Is an MSA required in California?

The requirement of an MSA varies from state to state, as well as among counties and courthouses. Call the Court Clerk in the courthouse where you intend to file your documents to determine if the requirement exists. If they are unable to provide an answer, you can review the divorce laws in your state via a web search.

Back to top

Q.  What is a Marital Separation and Property Settlement Agreement?

A marital separation agreement, also known as a property settlement agreement, is a written contract dividing your property, spelling out your rights, and settling problems such as alimony and custody. A marital separation agreement may be drawn before or after you have filed for divorce — even while you and your spouse are still living together.

When you initially execute a marital separation agreement you usually do not have to file the separation agreement with the court to be effective.

When and if you begin the divorce proceedings, you will attach the separation agreement to your divorce papers and ask the court to merge, but not incorporate, the agreement into the final judicial decree.  If the marital separation agreement is incorporated into the decree, it becomes a court order and is enforceable by the court.  If you don't incorporate the separation agreement into your decree, it simply becomes a contract or agreement between you and your spouse.


Back to top


Q.  Why is a Marital settlement agreement important?

If you have no marital property, no joint debts, and no children, you probably don't need a marital separation agreement to get a no-fault divorce. However, if you want to provide for the future governance of your relationship, as well as provide additional evidence to the court about the day that you separated, you should have a Marital Settlement Agreement. An agreement leaves no doubt about the details of the ending of your marriage relationship. It is better to have a clearly written agreement, rather than rely on verbal understandings.

In California, if you have a Marital Settlement  Agreement your divorce pleadings will be simpler and less complicated and it will be absolutely clear to the court that you have an uncontested divorce.

Back to top


Q.  Do I have to file a Marital Settlement Agreement with the court?

When you initially execute your Marital Settlement Agreement you do not have to file the Agreement with the Court to be effective. When you begin the divorce proceedings you will attach the Marital Settlement Agreement to the complaint and ask the court to merge, but not incorporate, the Agreement into the final judicial decree. If the Marital Settlement  Agreement is incorporated into the decree, it becomes a court order and is enforceable by the court's contempt powers. If you don't incorporate it into the decree, it simply becomes a contract between you and your spouse, which you later have to sue in a separate action to enforce. If the separation agreement is not incorporated into the divorce decree, and your spouse violates the agreement you can still seek money damages for the violation of the agreement, but it is easier and faster if the agreement is incorporated into the divorce decree.

Back to top


Q.  What is the difference between a contested or uncontested divorce?

Divorces are either contested or uncontested. Contested divorces are those in which the respondent disputes any issue in the case - the divorce itself, the property division, child custody, alimony, etc. Uncontested divorces fall into two categories - (1) Consent Divorces - the parties agree on all major issues; and (2) Default causes - where the respondent fails to appear to contest the divorce or any issue in it, either because he or she chooses not to oppose it, or because he or she cannot be located.  By entering into a Marital Settlement  Agreement you make your divorce an uncontested divorce.

Back to top


Q.  How long are the parties bound by a Marital Settlement Agreement?

A separation agreement is a legal document that will bind you through many years and determine your rights, obligations, and responsibilities from your marriage. You and your spouse can amend the agreement if you both consent to the changes; or it can be modified by a court order, provided the agreement does not specifically state that the agreement is not subject to any court modification. Nevertheless, the court can always modify provisions in an agreement regarding the care and custody of any minor children.

Back to top


Q.  Do the courts review the fairness of a Marital Property Settlement Agreement?

In an uncontested divorce, the court nearly always approves the agreement of the parties if it is generally fair and the court is convinced that the agreement was entered into by both spouses without fraud or coercion. Often the court may want to review financial affidavits attached to the agreement in order to determine its fairness.

In negotiating your agreement, you should be guided by how a court is likely to divide your property, award custody and child support, and deal with other issues.

Back to top


Q.  What is the difference between "marital property" and "non-marital property"?

In an "community property" state, like California, all property acquired during the marriage is "marital property" and all property owned before the marriage is "non-marital" property. Gifts or inheritances to either spouse during the marriage is non-marital property.

Back to top

Self-Prepared

California Divorce $39.00
CA MSA $39.00
CA Divorce & MSA Combo (best value) $69.00

Legal Technician-Prepared

California Divorce $199.00
CA MSA $99.00
CA Divorce & MSA Combo (best value) $249.00

Try before you buyStart Now

Special: Now through December 2nd take 15% off self-prepared documents! Use promotional code cyber15