Lawyers, help with a divorce question, please

I just recieved my divorce papers today. After saying that we had been seperated for the required ammount of, time, etc…nothing suprising, It concludes:

Wherefore, your Plaintiff prayes:

A. That she be granted an Absolute Divorce from the Defendant.

B. That the Voluntary Seperation Agreement of March 14, 2001, be incorperated, but not merged, into the Judgement of Absolute Divorce.

C. And for such other and further relief as the nature of her/his case may require.
The 1st 2 seem clear, as does the rest of the document, and the Seperation Agrement is as we agreed to before, but what does “C” mean? I would hate to have to pay a lawyer a couple hundred $$ just to have him/her tell me it’s nothing. Can any lawyers translate that to english? And what’s the difference between incorperated and merged? Thanks in advance,

This is not legal advice!!! You should retain your own attorney!!!

That said, it sounds like these are the papers that will begin the court proceedings for the two of you to get a divorce. 2 seems to indicate that the separation agreement will be part of the final divorce decree, but the terms of the final divorce decree will not necessarily be the terms of the separation agreement.

Which leads to 3. 3 just basically says that through the court proceedings you will split the property, and determine custody, alimony, and child support (if applicable). In other words, you’ll work out the final details, which the court will order (the relief) along with granting the divorce (also the relief).

DAVE, “such other relief as the Court deems just,” or words to that effect, is a phrase that is legal boilerplate and darn near meaningless. It means, essentially, “I’m not asking for just this, but for this and whatever else you want to give me, Judge.” It’s totally unnecessary because the Judge retains the right to fashion equitable relief as he or she sees fit, even if you don’t acknowledge that ability by saying “such other relief as the Court deems just.”

But this phrase (worded slightly differently from place to place) appears on every petition (or complaint or prayer for relief) in virtually every jurisdiction in the U.S. Don’t sweat it; practically speaking, it doesn’t mean anything.

I agree with Jodi (as usual). It’s just a bit of legal butt-covering.

What it does is prevents the other side from saying that you forgot to ask for some trivial (or even non-trivial) bit of relief, and that the court therefore doesn’t have the power to do it.

I think the “incorporated but not merged” language means that the separation agreement remains enforceable even after the divorce decree becomes final.

And Jodi is of course right about #3.

I don’t have anything to add to the legal discussion…


Been there, done that, you’re in my thoughts.

Thank you, everyone. I THOUGHT that was what it was, but wasn’t sure. Everything else is clear to me. If it wasn’t, I certainly would have hired an attorney, but didn’t want to do that if all he was gonna do was tall me what y’all just did.

Zyada, thank you kindly. This is just the legal coup de grace, it’s been over for a long time, and I’ve been fine for a while, also. Warm wishes are always apreciated, however.

…but yeah, it’s boilerplate. If you look in the divorce-related statutes of the state the divorce is being processed in, you’ll likely see a lot of the exact same terms repeated verbatim as in the papers. Whether or not you want to retain an attorney, though, should probably depend mostly on how much you trust your ex to play fair–only you can judge that.

And best wishes. Being fine is one thing, but I think you’ll find once all the legal rigmarole is over and signed and done with, that a big weight will lift off your shoulders.

Look out for the “incorporated but not merged language.” In some States when a temporary order has been entered for support or for paying the household bills or for something along those lines, there is no obligation to comply with the temporary order after the final order is entered because the temporary order is “merged” in the final order. This problem usually comes up when the full amount required in the temporary order has not been paid. If there is delinquent temporary support the “incorporated not merged” language may serve to preserve the right to collect the delinquent temporary support after the final decree is entered. If there were a temporary or interim obligation of any sort I’d ask some questions and seek the services of counsel, even if it cost me some money.