Why Does My Signed Agreement Need to Be Part of a Court Order?

Moving forward with a family law dispute is never easy.  Divorce, custody, or even stand-alone child support cases usually signal a fundamental change in the life of the parties.  In recent years, there has been a strong movement toward resolving cases out of court, and family law is no exception.  Settling your case before you have to go to a final hearing has many advantages.  You can tailor-make an order that addresses the particular issues in your case and handles them in a way that is best for your family and specific preferences.  Reaching a settlement before court will also save you time and money, as you will not have to wait for a final hearing date or pay an attorney to prepare for and try your case.  These settlement agreements will need to be in writing.  On top of that, it is important that your signed agreement be incorporated into the court order.

The most critical reason your signed agreement needs to be incorporated into a court order is enforceability.  Having a signed agreement between you and your spouse or the other parent is good evidence on what the court should do or the contents of your agreement.  However, unless and until that signed agreement is made part of a court order, a party cannot be found in contempt for failure to follow its provisions.  For example, you may have a signed agreement with the other parent that the two of you will alternate weekends with the child.  If the other parent then refuses to return the child at the end of the previously agreed-upon period, you will have limited immediate options other than going to court for a custody order.  This type of litigation can be lengthy and expensive.  Conversely, if you already have a court order that incorporated your agreement, you can seek an order finding the other parent in contempt.  A contempt action is often quicker and cheaper than a full-blown custody case.

Making sure your agreement is incorporated into a court order will also provide stability and certainty.  With a court order, neither party can unilaterally change the terms of the agreement; instead, it will be necessary to return to court to modify the agreement.

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We have extensive experience helping our clients reach settlement agreements that are enforceable and address the essential issues in their cases.  Call us today for a consultation.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us atinfo@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

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