What is a Settlement Agreement?
The Settlement Agreement will be a lengthy pleading outlining all the details of the divorce settlement. The issues such as alimony, marital assets, child support, taxes, and the parenting plan will all be addressed. The Settlement Agreement is completely enforceable once it is signed and filed with the Court. After the Settlement Agreement is filed with the Court, a Final Judgement and Decree of Divorce will be signed by a Judge granting the couple’s divorce. The Final Judgement and Decree of Divorce will incorporate the Settlement Agreement. By incorporating the Agreement into the Decree, shows the Court has “reviewed the settlement agreement and found its content to be within bounds of the law”. Gravley v. Gravley 278 Ga. 897 If either party fails to comply with the terms of the Agreement, they may have a contempt action brought against them by the opposing party.
Can the Settlement Agreement Be Rejected?
According to Schwartz v. Schwartz, “Settlement Agreements in divorce cases must be construed in the same manner and under the same rules as all other contractual agreements.” The judge on the case does have the opportunity to review the terms of the Settlement Agreement to make sure it is valid under law. When the Final Judgement and Divorce Decree is submitted to the Judge for his or her approval, the Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan will be submitted along with it. A Settlement Agreement is rarely rejected. The Judge has the power to approve the Settlement Agreement in whole or in part, or refuse to approve it all together. Guthrie v. Guthrie, 277 Ga. 700.
Steps to Getting to a Settlement Agreement
The Settlement Agreement will take time to finalize and is one of the last steps in the divorce process. First, all the other pleadings such as a Complaint, Summons, Acknowledgement of Service will need to be filed first to initiate the case. In some cases, the Plaintiff may serve the Defendant with a proposed settlement agreement with the initial pleadings. This may lead to a quick agreement being signed without the need of a hearing or mediation. In other cases, such as contested divorces, it may take months to get all the details finalized for the agreements. A majority of the time Settlement Agreements are finalized in mediation in order to avoid going to a final trial. However, whether your divorce case is uncontested or contested is important to have an experienced Family Law attorney on your side when working through the details of the Settlement Agreement. Contact us toll-free at 866-527-2630 to speak with one of our Marietta Family Law attorneys about your divorce case.