Divorce Settlement Agreement

Divorce Settlement Agreement

A Divorce Settlement Agreement is a document that is also commonly called a “Settlement Agreement” or a “Separation Agreement.” The purpose of a divorce settlement agreement is to document the details of agreements made between the couple so that the divorce can be completed without a trial. A Divorce Settlement Agreement must include all the details agreed upon by the parties regarding child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony), division of marital assets and debts and similar issues.  Settlement Agreements  for military uncontested divorces may have some unique provisions that are missing from a civilian divorce settlement agreement.  But, they are essentially the same.

In an uncontested divorce, the settlement agreement is essential to indicate to the judge that your divorce is actually uncontested so the divorce can be granted without a trial.

Is a Divorce Settlement Agreement required before separation?

A written Divorce Settlement Agreement is not actually required before the divorcing couple can separate. The divorcing couple can reach an informal agreement before or after they separate.  But, most commonly, it is during the actual divorce process.  The uncontested divorce process is much faster, easier and less expensive if a mutually acceptable agreement can be reached early in the divorce process . If you feel like you don’t need a Settlement Agreement due to the fact that you have little to no marital property or children you might be correct,  However, the formal Settlement Agreement documents for the court that your divorce is actually uncontested and it records your mutual understanding of the terms of the divorce.  If you do not have a signed Settlement Agreement, the process can be much more time consuming, even if the couple is not arguing about anything.

Is a Divorce Attorney required?

Technically, it is not required to have an attorney for the divorce process or during the writing a Divorce Settlement Agreement. But if you want to have a divorce settlement agreement that provides for your best interests while also being fair, you really need to hire your own experienced Georgia divorce attorney. This is especially true if your spouse has also hired a divorce attorney and is presenting you with a proposed Divorce Settlement Agreement.  You should have your own divorce attorney review the divorce papers on your behalf.  Your spouse’s attorney cannot give you legal advice or otherwise answer your questions.  An experienced divorce attorney can also provide many services that will make the uncontested divorce process faster and easier.  This includes coordinating with the court on your behalf and filing the documents necessary to avoid having to actually appear in court to obtain the final final decree of divorce.

One or Two Divorce Attorneys?

One attorney can handle an uncontested divorce.  But you both need to understand the relationship that the attorney has with you and your spouse.  You must also know that, technically, a Georgia divorce lawyer can only ethically represent one of you even in an uncontested divorce case.  The lawyer will only be able to advise one party confidentially and fully – and that person will be the attorney’s client. You and your spouse must know who the attorney is representing.

Can a Divorce Settlement Agreement be Changed?

Once a divorce settlement agreement has been made a part of the court’s final judgment and decree of divorce, it is binding until it is modified by the court by a subsequent order. Most provisions in a divorce settlement agreement can be modified by the parties by a subsequent written agreement and ordered (approved) by the court. A modification of a divorce agreement can also be filed as a contested matter if the parties cannot reach an agreement.

Marital and Separate Property in the Divorce Settlement Agreement

In general, in the State of Georgia all of the property that is acquired during the marriage is considered marital property, meaning that it belongs to both of the spouses.  This can be true even if property is actually titled in the name of only one of the parties.  Marital property is subject to “equitable division” in a divorce. To determine whether personal or real property is marital or separate, consider the following: if the asset was acquired after the date you were married, it is generally considered marital property. If the asset was acquired before the date of marriage, it is generally non-marital property.

However, if the property was acquired through inheritance or a gift from a third party, it is generally considered separate property even though it was acquired during the marriage. But, no matter when or how acquired, if real estate is later titled from one spouse to the other or both spouses, it will generally then be considered marital property. This is a fairly common, especially when the real property has been refinanced during the marriage.

Ready to Start the Uncontested Divorce Settlement Agreement?

If you are facing a divorce and have questions about the uncontested divorce process in Georgia, we recommend that you complete our Client Inquiry .  An attorney will respond to you by email.