The divorce agreement is sometimes called a "marital settlement agreement" or just settlment agreement". It covers the entire agreement of the parties. For example, it covers the division martial assets and debts of the parties. The agreement covers matters concerning the children, such as child support, visitation and custody. State more simply, it primarily covers the rights and responsibilities of each party.
Once the parties agree on the terms and conditions of the agreement, the parties sign the settlement agreement in front of a notary. The agreement is filed with the court and incorporated into the final judgment of divorce. The judge decides whether to accept or reject the agreement or tell the parties to modify certain terms in the agreement. The judge only asks parties to modify the agreement when the parties ask to include items which are outside the norm and only typically happens when children are involved. Most attorneys that practice divorce law in the area know what the court typically will accept and what the court won't accept.
With any uncontested divorce, the parties must have divorce agreement. The divorce agreement contains the parties understanding as to:
This settlement agreement is put in writing and is signed by both parties. The agreement, along with other necessary paperwork, is filed with the court.
The agreement sets out how the assets of the marriage are to be divided, both personal and real property. Personal property are items like televisions, boats and cars. Real property encompasses your house and any land that either spouse may own. If you have a house, the agreement can provide that one party will get the house, or that the house will be sold and the proceeds will be divided. If both parties are responsible for the mortgage, and the real property is going to one party, then that party that is getting the house should remove the other parties name from the mortgage. Typically, this can be accomplished by one party assuming the loan or having the house refinanced. Just check with your lending institution.
It also covers who is going to pay the debts of the marriage or any joint debts. One party may pay all of a debt or just a portion. The clause should set out if the party will pay their portion to the other spouse or directly to the creditor. Also with respect to joint debts, I typically suggest that the joint account to be closed so that the other party can not continue make purchases and thereby increasing the account balance.
The agreement sets out who is going to get the custody of the minor children. In Alabama, anyone that is under 19 years of age is considered a minor unless the child has been emancipated. It will also set out the type of custody. The parties may have joint physical custody, sole physical custody, and/or joint legal custody of he minor children. In an agreement with one party getting primary physical custody and the over party getting visitation, the divorce agreement will provide the visitation schedule for non custodial parent.
The agreement provides how much child support will be and when it will be paid. Child support is calculated based on both parent's gross income, the number of children any daycare expenses and the cost of health insurance. Also the agreement provides where the child support will be paid. For example, the child support can be deduct from the non custodial parent. Also, child support can be paid directly into the court or child support can be be paid directly to the custodial parent.
Some parties decide to put a provision in the settlement agreement providing how the parties are to split the school expenses of any children. This expense can cover school expenses for children in public school and to cover tuition for children that are in private school.
The divorce agreement also sets out if the wife will revert back to her maiden name. If this clause is not in the divorce agreement, the wife will have file a name change petition with the probate court and pay the filing fee. The probate court will schedule a hearing before granting the name change petition. If had the name change clause put in the agreement, then once the divorce is granted, she will have to get a certified copy of the divorce to change her name at the Social Security office and the driver's license office. A certified copy of the judgment of divorce can be obtained at the Domestic Relations Division office located on the 9th Floor of Government Plaza.
Sometimes the parties want to include the requirement that the spouse paying child support will also get life insurance. Usually, the children are made the beneficiaries of this life insurance policy. It is used to cover the child support that will not be paid in the even of the spouse's death.
I have prepared and filed hundreds of uncontested divorces in Mobile, Alabama. If you are married and thinking of filing for divorce, give me a call to help you make the process quick, easy and affordable. I understand that sometimes problems don't occur nine to five. Consequently, a family law attorney is available on a limited basis to take your calls on the weekend and after hours. Please call the firm and leave a message and a lawyer will call you back as soon as possible.