A Support Agreement is a legal contract between a husband and wife when they are divorced or separated. This agreement provides all the information regarding the benefits which the spouse, normally the wife, is entitled to post the divorce. The nature and the number of benefits is mutually agreed by both husband and wife. The financial support provided by the husband has to cover the spouse and expenses to be incurred to raise their child or children. The income of the spouse paying the support as well as all assets owned by him have to be declared at the time of divorce.
Depending on the law of the state where the couple resides, there will be distribution of assets and future income of the spouse. The details of income and assets of the spouse responsible for providing the support is verified before the terms of distribution are laid down.
When Do You Need a Support Agreement
A support agreement is required when a couple is separated or divorced, and the spouse, in most cases the wife, requires financial support to maintain herself and their children. The purpose of a support agreement is to ensure that the spouse applying for benefits gets what is legitimately due to her as well as her children. The income and assets of the spouse are verified by the legal representative of the spouse receiving the support before the decision regarding the distribution of assets and future income of the spouse is made.
Inclusions in a Support Agreement
A support agreement is an official document which indicates the separation or divorce of a couple. As per the support agreement definition, the prime objective of the agreement is for one party to provide financial or other forms of support to another party. As it is a bipartite agreement, the names of the husband and wife should be included in the agreement.
The agreement should also include the effective date, the details of the assets and income of the spouse, the distribution percentage of the assets and income including retirement as well as pension plans, ensuring payment directly made to the other party without going through a central depository, the responsibility of paying individual income tax, bankruptcy provisions, legal representations of both parties, the responsibility of payment of fees and costs.
How to Draft a Support Agreement
While drafting a support agreement, the following points should be kept in mind:
- The names of the parties to the agreement and the relationship shared between them should be mentioned
- The events which lead to revocation of the agreement should be stated
- The laws of the state under whose jurisdiction the agreement has been drafted should be mentioned
- The details of the assets and income of the spouse paying the support should be mentioned including any verification reports for the same
- The agreement should be admissible as evidence
- Any modifications or amendments to the agreement should be possible through a clause to that effect
- Both parties should agree to provide any document required for the performance of the agreement
- In the event when both the parties decide to reconcile their differences, the agreement will stand unless terminated by both parties in writing
Benefits of a Support Agreement
The benefits of having a support agreement are as under:
- Division of assets: The support agreements ensure that there is proper verification of the assets of the spouse paying the support. This will ensure that there is no possibility of suppressing information to show lower assets.
- Protection of interest: The interest of both the spouse paying the support and the one receiving the support is protected by this agreement. The agreement clearly states what is payable and both parties have to provide mutual consent before the agreement is finalized.
- Future events: If there is some windfall which the spouse who is paying the support receives, then the agreement can incorporate a clause where the receiving spouse can claim a portion of it.
Types of Support Agreement
The types of support agreement are mentioned below:
- Temporary support: The period during which the application for divorce has been made but the final divorce has not been granted is when the temporary support is required.
- Short-term and rehabilitative support: Short-term support is applicable when the marriage was short-term and the final date is mentioned in the order. Rehabilitative support helps to get the dependent spouse back to the workforce after training
- Long-term support: Marriages which are more than 10 years in duration are eligible for this support.
- Reimbursement support: This is a kind of support meant to reimburse the education or career sacrifice made by the dependent spouse.
Key Terms of a Support Agreement
The key terms of a support agreement are given here:
- Spousal support: The parties relinquish any form of spousal support apart from what is mentioned in the agreement
- Personal property: If the personal property has already been distributed, then the property individually owned by them cannot be considered
- Outstanding debt: Any debt or liability arising due to the transfer of property due to this agreement is the individual responsibility of the concerned party.
- Bankruptcy: The agreement can be forced in case of bankruptcy
- Fees and costs: The attorney fees and costs incurred with respect to this agreement is the individual responsibility of each party
[Also Read: Marriage Separation Agreement]
When a husband and wife decide to either separate or get divorced, a support agreement is mandatory.
You can download a support agreement template here.