Every well-drafted Matrimonial Settlement Agreement (“MSA”) contains what seems like endless pages of paragraphs that clients often gloss over, called ‘boilerplate language’. I include this in each MSA that I draft. Some attorneys include little of the language. When agreements are verbally placed “on the record” in Court, much of the boilerplate language is actually ignored.
But the boilerplate language should not be ignored and it often has an immense impact down the road. For example, a “Waiver of Discovery” paragraph will generally preclude a person from later claiming that their spouse did not supply the financial data that should have been supplied.
Another example is a paragraph included in which a person representing himself acknowledges that he could have been represented by counsel but is satisfied that he has represented himself. This could preclude him from later arguing that he did not understand his rights or even the MSA language itself.
I mention the above because it has been my frequent experience to consult with someone who complains that he either did not understand the agreement or that he thought he agreed to something other that what is the clear language of the MSA. As the saying goes: the devil is in the details. In an MSA, the details are not merely filler.