We reached a divorce settlement months ago, but she is now unwilling to transmit the divorce papers to court in order to finalize the divorce.
What legal status does this agreement have until it is signed off by the judge? Can I just submit the paperwork rather than waiting on her divorce lawyer?
This answer only includes general divorce help for men since I am only licensed to practice in Oklahoma and am thus unable to provide any advice on divorce laws in your state.
You can definitely ask your mens divorce attorney to prepare all the documents to finalize your divorce.
Once your lawyer has prepared everything, it will have to be submitted to your wife's divorce lawyer, then they will have a reasonable amount of time to review everything and propose any changes, additions, or corrections. This will almost certainly be more expensive than letting the other side do it, but waiting around for them to get it done can be expensive too.
If you believe the other side is simply sitting on their hands and refusing to finalize your divorce, you can ask the court for help. You may consider filing a motion with the court to enforce your settlement agreement.
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You may be able to simply present the settlement agreement to the court and ask the judge to make it an order. If you use this approach, you're just bypassing your ex-wife's attempts to stall by cutting straight to the heart of the matter.
If the settlement was agreed to and signed by all parties, the court would likely give it deference.
At a hearing on such a motion, you'd need to show that you reached an agreement, that the agreement is reflected in the actual written document, that everyone involved signed off on the agreement, and that there's no reason why your divorce should not be finalized pursuant to the terms of the agreement.
There are special rules about how much information about settlement negotiations can be presented to the judge, so you may run into some resistance from your wife's attorney if the focus shifts to how the settlement was reached. But the fact that you have an agreement, and a written statement of that agreement, should not be an issue.
Please understand that my opinions are based upon the limited facts that you provided to me. For a more in depth discussion of fathers rights and legal advice on divorce, I urge you to contact a family law attorney.