It is quite evident that settling a divorce is often not that easy. In most occasions, this process is usually tedious, time-consuming and complicated, especially if the parties or the partners cannot mutually agree on the fundamental legal issues at hand. However, there is the possibility of spouses coming together and agreeing on the terms of their divorce on their own, without the court’s intervention. This is what is referred to as a stipulated divorce.
To be more precise, a stipulated divorce is an uncontested divorce, which court approves after the parties have submitted a written stipulation, which is a complete agreement without any remaining contested issues. So in a stipulated divorce hearing, the judge reviews the divorce settlements and opts whether to approve it or not. The term ‘stipulated’ implies that the couple agrees on the facts and mutually accept that the court will use those facts when deciding the case.
The involved parties typically prepare for a stipulated divorce hearing by agreeing to a mutual marital settlement which allows them to share their debts and assets equally, and addresses their child custody, if they have one. After this sort of agreement, they then submit this to the court. It is crucial to note that both the parties will have their respective lawyers signing the stipulated agreement. This agreement must contain legal conclusions and factual findings. An affidavit, a comprehensive list of marital debts and property, and perhaps child support calculation worksheet must all be provided in the document.
The stipulated divorce hearing process
After the spouse has filed the necessary documents, the state will after that assign a reputable and an experienced judge to examine and review the case. According to the regulations of most states, the attorneys of the parties plus their clients are needed to attend the hearing. On the other hand, certain states do not force you to participate in the hearing unless requested by the judge.
If you must attend the hearing session, you’ll be informed of the venue, the date and time of the hearing. If you are committed and don’t have a chance to attend, you can consult your lawyer and have him ask for rescheduling by the court, since this is allowed.
During the hearing, the judge might decide to conduct a direct conversation with the parties and interrogate them thoroughly, regarding the case. Avoid making amateur mistakes. It is during this time that the judge will also confirm if the parties had adequately understood the terms and conditions of the agreement, and if they meet the divorce residency requirements.
Some states demand the parties bring reliable witnesses who will testify regarding the circumstances of the hearing. If the judge is convinced by the terms of the agreement and therefore does not have any significant questions to ask either party, the stipulated divorce hearing process will last for the shortest time possible.
The approval by the court
It is crucial to note that the stipulated agreement must be approved by the court since this is when it is deemed legal and binding. Most of the stipulated divorce agreements often go through the court’s review successfully. However, in rare occasions, the courts can opt to withhold any approval, depending on the possible circumstances. This often occurs when the court finds out that the parties do not meet the requirements of state residency. Also, if the judge firmly believes that one partner has not grasped the divorce terms. You should also note that when the agreements violate the law in any manner, the court will rule against it.
The Bottom Line
A stipulated divorce hearing has some advantages. The most important one is that it enables the parties to reach an agreement much quicker since they can reach a mutual and an amicable agreement. However, before you decide to engage in a stipulated agreement, you ensure that you understand the terms of your divorce. You may choose to seek professional guidance if needed since this will enhance your ability to comprehend each and every bit of the conditions of the agreement.