DIY Divorces May Not Have a Clear and Binding Agreement

Going over contract

If you are planning to file for an uncontested divorce (both parties agree on divorce terms) specifically in Georgia, you may think that you do not need the help of a divorce lawyer because you and your wife already agree on everything and you have figured out how to do other tasks in the past so you think you should or can figure this new task out also. Since an uncontested divorce means that the spouses have come to an agreement on matters of property division, alimony (or spousal support), child custody and visitation, and child support, you might assume that there is no reason to have an attorney work with you throughout the process. However, even in uncontested divorces, it is very important to have an experienced divorce lawyer who can guide you through the complicated process of developing a marital settlement agreement that is a fair settlement of assets and debts based on experience, likewise if there are minor children developing a parenting plan and accurate child support to ensure the children maintain a strong relationship with both parents even if you have disagreements in the future, and representing you in a final hearing before the judge (in most counties without you even having to appear in Court), and ensuring that your agreement is accepted by the Court and final.

To be clear, without help from a Georgia divorce lawyer, you may not have a clear and binding agreement that you could regret signing in the future or could be frustrated to find out some terms you felt were strong negotiating points aren’t even enforced by the Court. This is an important reason why you shouldn’t file your own divorce.

Required Papers and the Marital Settlement Agreement

There are numerous steps involved in an uncontested divorce despite the fact that the spouses may have come to an agreement specifying certain terms. In order to have a binding agreement, however, Georgia family law requires spouses to go through a number of different steps such as filing a correct and complete petition, verification, and summons under the correct jurisdiction and correct venue, serving the other spouse properly, waiting the correct time period, what to say and not to say to your spouse, when 14 5 CHAPTER 15 and how either spouse can move out, what happens with the kids or who pays certain bills during the divorce. Also there are the divorce documents that have to be written properly not just for the terms you have agreed upon that can be asked for in a divorce, but will all be enforceable by the Court after submitted, signed and filed in Court. Moreover, the parties will need to file financial affidavits that provide information about their assets, debts, and earnings. The spouses will also need to file documents that allow the court to grant the divorce.

As you can see, even uncontested divorces are complex, and without careful attention to all of the requirements, you may not end up with a clear and binding agreement. In other words, even if you and your spouse agree to specific ways in which the marital property will be divided and child custody will be handled unless you go through the steps that the law requires, you might not have a legally binding agreement.

Unenforceable Terms Commonly Put in Divorce Papers

Here are examples of terms put into a divorce that are not enforceable: a term that a parent will automatically pay more or pay less child support in the future no matter the parent’s income, a term that a parent can see the children “whenever they want”, any term ordering some other person or business (like a bank) other than the parties to do something in the divorce papers, a requirement that the other spouse cannot have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or a requirement that the other spouse cannot move.

Dangers of Verbal Agreements with Your Spouse

In addition to the importance of making sure the terms of your uncontested divorce are final and binding, a Georgia divorce attorney can also help to ensure that any terms you agree to orally or verbally with your spouse are included in the binding final agreement. In numerous cases, spouses who file for uncontested divorce and decide to do so without the help of an attorney make promises to one another verbally, and they come up with terms for property distribution which they think are fair. In addition, those couples might discuss how they will share time with their children and come to an agreement about custody on the child’s birthday and other holidays. They might assume that, since they are not fighting with one another about the terms of the divorce, there is no need to have these particular agreements in writing.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Without a legally binding agreement that clarifies even the smallest details of property distribution and child custody, any verbal agreements you make with your spouse may not be binding according to the law. A divorce attorney in Georgia can ensure that every aspect of your marital settlement agreement is clear and binding.

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