What is a divorce agreement?
A divorce settlement agreement is a contract voluntarily entered into between a husband and a wife in which they agree to resolve such matters as property division, debts, child custody, child support, visitation, debt, alimony, insurance, tax, and settlement of any property issues when they end their marriage to each other. It must be signed by both parties and approved by a judge. Each family is unique, so there are often unique issues that arise. Some couples may use the divorce settlement agreement to address exceptional issues like who will take care of the family’s pet or the religious practice that the children would follow. It is always best to be fair and open minded when negotiating a settlement agreement. Try to keep the children’s best interests at heart and set aside any feelings of disappointment or betrayal.
Do both spouses have to agree to divorce?
No, both spouses do not have to agree with a divorce to get one. You can get a divorce when your spouse refuses to contest or even sign the papers. Every location has their own specific rules as to how to get a divorce when the spouse doesn’t respond or sign. So be sure to ask the courthouse in which you are filing the paperwork. Divorces often become contentious. If one spouse is not cooperating or is trying to avoid the divorce, the process may stretch out for a long time. Resisting spouses may refuse to sign the necessary divorce papers or fail to respond to a request for a divorce. Some states will allow the divorce to proceed “uncontested,” while others allow the spouse asking for the divorce to obtain a default divorce. The easiest type of divorce is an uncontested divorce, which means both spouses have filed the necessary paperwork and agree to all divorce-related issues, such as alimony (spousal support), child custody and support, and the division of property and debts. In these cases, you can present your divorce settlement agreement to the court where a judge will review the agreement, issue orders based on that agreement, and grant you a divorce. If the agreement involves child support and custody terms, judges will check to make sure your parenting agreement and the child support amount is in the best interests of the child and meets state guidelines.
Do we really need to agree to a divorce settlement agreement?
No. If the divorcing parties do not agree, the court will decide an equitable settlement. Negotiating a mutually agreed to divorce settlement agreement can help to amicably resolve issues like debts, children, support claims, or property involved, and a written agreement defines the legal rights and responsibilities of each spouse. A divorce settlement agreement will usually facilitate a quick and easy divorce by reducing the conflict, expense, and time.
We’ve only been married a short time; can we just get an annulment?
An annulment is not a divorce involving a short marriage. It is a declaration that no valid marriage ever existed, such as when there are roadblocks to marriage being valid (e.g. one party was already married or drunk or insane at the time of she marriage ceremony). If the marriage is valid, the only way to end it is with a divorce. A divorce settlement agreement may be helpful in expediting a divorce so you can each move on with your lives.
Is a prenuptial agreement and a divorce settlement agreement the same?
No. A prenuptial agreement is created and signed before the wedding takes place; this contract will run through the course of the marriage. A prenup document is made in order to protect the assets of one or both spouses during a divorce. A divorce settlement agreement is negotiated and signed when a marriage is ending in divorce. The presence of a prenuptial agreement might provide one party with negotiating leverage and influence the terms of a divorce settlement agreement.
Does a divorce settlement agreement need to have a court hearing?
Yes. A legal divorce is a civil court order that ends a marriage and allows the court to issue orders concerning division of property, spousal support (alimony), and visitation and custody for any minor children. A pre-negotiated divorce settlement agreement can be presented in a court hearing that will formally process it by asking questions to the couple. The evidence and testimony gathered will be taken into consideration and grant some portions of their wishes stated in the final divorce decree. If no other issues arise from the divorce and it is agreed upon amicably, the judge will most likely grant the request and make it a part of the divorce order.
What does a divorce settlement agreement address?
A divorce settlement agreement can address issues pertaining but not limited to alimony, child custody, and issues on child support, visitation, property, debt, pensions, tax filing and insurance. These are the agreements that you and your spouse have come up with that will be put into writing.
Do I need a lawyer for a divorce settlement agreement?
Only the husband and wife can determine if they prefer to handle their personal affairs like divorce, support and custody, and property settlement by themselves or to get the advice and expense of legal representation. Sometimes the presence of lawyers can escalate the ongoing conflict, run up legal fees, and increase acrimony. A legal divorce can be made without a lawyer in many states. Lawyers can offer advice on how to handle matters pertaining to the rules of divorce procedure. They might be familiar with the judge who will handle your case and know the best approach. They can also advise their client on how to best present themselves in court that can result in a productive process and better outcome of the divorce proceedings.
Does a divorce settlement agreement make divorce easier?
Yes. A divorce settlement agreement can make divorce easier because it can lessen the tensions and arguments that usually accompany the end of a marriage. It can also encourage both spouses to work together to find a positive outcome for both parties and their children. Sometimes, this results in couples seeking to work out their differences and give the marriage one more shot. Judges sometime encourage couples to try to work out their differences in court. With or without divorce agreements, many marriages end with divorces that are not contentious.
Why should we use a divorce agreement? Do we have to?
If no divorce settlement agreement is made, the court will do its duty in performing a hearing to address issues such as debt, alimony, child custody, support, visitation rights, taxes, insurance, etc. This can consume a lot of time and money. Having a divorce settlement agreement can make the work of the court faster, easier, and less expensive. A freely negotiated agreement can specify terms that the judge may not. After all, you know more of the relationship than the judge does.
What kind of terms do you mean?
Terms may include the amount and duration of support payments, which spouse gets custody of children, and what the visitation rights are for the non-custodial parents. Use logical legal reasons when negotiating for the terms that you want. You can use a lawyer to help make your case and to argue it, but hiring a lawyer can be expensive.
Source: 1-2-Law: www.12law.clm