Crystal Wright | June 3, 2021 | Divorce
Only one spouse needs to file pleadings with the court to begin the divorce process in Georgia. The Complaint alleges one of 13 grounds for divorce, including a “no-fault” ground for irreconcilable differences.
A spouse does not need to agree to the divorce for the court to end the marriage. Under the no-fault grounds, irreconcilable differences between you and your spouse are sufficient for the court to grant the divorce.
Therefore, even if you do not “sign” the divorce papers, your spouse can still obtain a divorce in Georgia.
What Does It Mean to “Sign” Divorce Papers?
When you discuss signing divorce papers, it usually means entering a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement defines the terms of the divorce, such as spousal support, child support, custody, and property division. The parties generally negotiate the terms of the divorce with the help of their attorneys.
In some cases, the parties may use mediation to settle their divorce issues. A mediator assists the spouses in identifying concerns that need to be resolved and developing a mutually agreeable resolution for each of those issues.
When the parties reach a settlement agreement through mediation or negotiation, they “sign” the agreement and present it to the court. In many cases, the court incorporates the agreement into the final divorce decree.
The court carefully reviews the provisions of the agreement that relate to minor children to ensure that they reflect the children’s best interest. Child support is calculated based on the Georgia Child Support Guidelines. Of course, the couple may agree to a higher child support amount than the required child support payment.
If you refuse to sign a settlement agreement, your spouse may proceed with a contested divorce proceeding.
In a contested divorce, a spouse seeks a divorce based on one or more grounds. The spouse also explains what they believe they are entitled to receive for property division and spousal support. They also may seek sole custody and child support.
You have the option of hiring an attorney to fight the divorce action. However, if you do not respond to the divorce pleadings or hire an attorney to fight the divorce, the court may grant the divorce based on your spouse’s requested terms.
If you hire an attorney to fight the divorce, the case will proceed through the discovery phase to a trial. At the trial, you and your spouse present evidence supporting your claims. Then, the court makes a final ruling based on the law and the evidence presented in court.
Is It Better to Sign Divorce Papers?
Ignoring a divorce petition is not in your best interest. Your spouse may receive everything they desire, which could be detrimental to your interests. You deserve to receive a fair divorce settlement after your marriage ends.
Responding to the divorce is the best way to protect your and your children’s interests. Even if you and your spouse agree to a divorce, there may still be several issues that must be addressed. For example, you need to divide your property and debts, develop a parenting plan, and resolve issues related to domestic support.
By responding to the divorce complaint, you have the option of arguing the matters before a judge if you and your spouse cannot agree to terms. Failing to respond to the divorce complaint could result in waiving some of your legal rights.
Refusing to Accept Service of the Divorce Complaint
For some individuals, “signing divorce appears” may refer to whether they accept service of the divorce complaint. The divorce complaint must be served on the spouse who did not file for divorce. The spouse may sign a notarized Acknowledgment of Service form indicating that they received a copy of the divorce complaint.
Service may also be completed by a Sheriff’s officer or a private process server. The officer or private process server personally delivers a copy of the divorce complaint to the spouse. The spouse is not required to “sign” the papers. Instead, the Sheriff’s officer or the process server signs a sworn affidavit for the court that details when and how the divorce papers were served upon the spouse.
To Sign or Not to Sign
Divorce proceedings should be taken seriously, including uncontested divorces. The decisions made during the divorce have long-term consequences for you and your children. Participating in the divorce ensures that you have a voice in decisions that can significantly impact your life.