In an uncontested divorce in Georgia, the Settlement Agreement is the document that sets out what the spouses have agreed to and is usually filed contemporaneously with the Complaint, Acknowledgement of Service, Consent to Try in 31 days, and other documents such as Waivers and Name Change Affidavits as may be appropriate. The Agreement serves the purpose of informing the court that the parties want an uncontested divorce and have resolved all “contestable” issues, including child custody, child support, spousal support, and division of property and debt. The assigned judge will then grant the divorce as soon as 31 days after filing all the documents.
How is a Divorce Settlement Agreement Enforced?
The Settlement Agreement starts out as an enforceable agreement by the divorcing parties. Upon the granting of the Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce the Agreement is incorporated into that Final Judgment and becomes an Order of the court, enforceable through the contempt power of the court. For example, if the Agreement states that the father shall have visitation every other weekend and the mother refuses to let the father have the children on his weekend, then the father can file a motion for contempt and ask the court to cite the mother for contempt, which is an order that may include sanctions, such as paying the father’s attorney fees. There are of course actions that can be brought before the court where neither party has disobeyed the court order, such as a petition for modification of custody when one parent relocates or modification of child support in the event the noncustodial parent loses his or her job. And if the parties are in agreement to make a change to the Settlement Agreement, the court will usually accept the change they want so long as the formalities of the original Agreement are followed.
Do I need a lawyer for a Settlement Agreement?
A lawyer is not a must. All adults in the U.S. have a constitutional right to represent themselves and enter into contracts, and almost every county in Georgia has a website with downloadable divorce forms, including Settlement Agreement forms. These are very basic forms, however, meant to help spouses get a simple divorce if there are no children and little or no property to divide. The forms are invariably not enough if children are involved or significant assets are to be divided, such as a home or retirement accounts. In these cases it is best to have a lawyer prepare the final documents and file them. If the parties are certain of their agreement, one lawyer representing the Plaintiff can do all the work. If complex matters such as pensions, military retirement benefits, 401(k) accounts, businesses and the like, then two lawyers may be called for, each representing the interests of one of the parties. This can still be an uncontested divorce as long as the Settlement Agreement is filed with all the other documents. Note that if one party files a Complaint and has the other party served, the divorce is considered contested.
Uncontested Divorce – Free Consultation
If you are thinking of divorce and would like a free consultation with a Georgia licensed attorney, call The Hughes Law Office at 770-933-0780. We have handled hundreds of uncontested divorce cases and our clients have thanked us with many positive reviews – see my profile on Avvo https://www.avvo.com/attorneys/30060-ga-leo-hughes-3561584.html#client_reviews