When parties are negotiating terms of a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) or a Joint Parenting Agreement (JPA) at the eleventh hour, they might be inclined to make concessions for the sake of “getting it over with.” Perhaps the parties are inclined to insert a provision into the agreement that will not take effect for a couple of years and assume they will deal with it at that time. However, parties should be very aware of and sensitive to the language in such an agreement because a court is likely to enforce the terms.
Recently, the Illinois Supreme Court reiterated the enforceability of a JPA that was incorporated into a Judgment of Dissolution. In In re Marriage of Coulter, 2012 IL 113474, the parties agreed in the JPA that the mother would not remove the children to California for the first 24 months after entry of the JPA. If the parties were unable to reach an agreement between the 24th and 36th months, the mother was free to remove the children to California without any contest from the father. Before the expiration of the 36th month, the father filed an emergency petition seeking to enjoin the mother from removing the children to California.