Divorce settlement agreements in Oregon are also referred to as “marital settlement agreements.” They can be used informally, in the collaborative divorce process, or in litigated cases prior to finalizing a formal divorce judgment.

A marital settlement agreement is a contractual agreement entered into by spouses prior to finalizing their divorce. Some of the benefits include:

  • Privacy and confidentiality. With most court records now being published online, there is significant appeal to maintaining privacy and confidentiality in the terms of a divorce.
  • Greater control. Settlement agreements can be more detailed and be better tailored towards the parties’ specific circumstances. Oregon case law takes a more “one size fits all” approach to divorce cases.
  • Less risk and unpredictability. When parties set their own terms for settling their divorce, they know what they are getting. They know the obligations they are assuming. They agree to the compromises they are making. There is less risk than in proceeding to court and having an unknown judge make unknown findings and rulings.
  • Less expense. Settling a case with terms known in advance is less expensive than proceeding to trial.

“Can We Settle Our Divorce Outside of Court?”

Parties in Oregon divorce cases often indicate that they’d like to “settle out of court.” However, for the divorce settlement agreement to be legally enforceable and for the marriage to be dissolved, there will ultimately need to be an order or judgment of the court. Typically, parties enter into settlement agreements because they want to have more control over their divorce than might be expected if they left it up to a judge. Settlement is often less disruptive and less expensive than litigation. However, the marital settlement agreement is not the same as a judgment for dissolution of marriage. Such a judgment will be needed to end the marriage.

Judges are not required to approve martial settlement agreements and terms that might violate Oregon law or public policy may not be allowed. It’s important to work with a divorce attorney in order to make sure the terms of any settlement are clearly stated, fair and just, and legally enforceable.