What Is a Stipulated Divorce Hearing?

By Timothy James

In a stipulated divorce hearing, a judge reviews a divorce settlement and decides whether to approve it. Some states refer to a stipulated divorce hearing as an uncontested divorce hearing. The word "stipulated" means that the parties agree on the facts and agree that the court can rely on those facts in deciding the case. For many divorcing couples, a stipulated divorce hearing plays an important role in bringing their marriage to a close.

Preparing Documents

Parties prepare for a stipulated divorce hearing by agreeing on a marital settlement that divides their assets and debts and addresses the future care of any children. Then, they submit a stipulated divorce agreement or marital settlement agreement to the court. Both parties and their attorneys sign the stipulated agreement. Some states require the parties to submit an affidavit, child support calculation worksheet, and other materials such as a list of marital property and debts. The stipulated divorce agreement also contains factual findings and legal conclusions.

Attending the Hearing

After the parties file the required documents, the state will assign a judge to review the case. Many states require that you and your attorney attend the hearing, but others do not require your attendance unless the judge requests it. If your attendance is required, the court will inform you of the time and place of the hearing. If you can't attend your hearing, speak with your attorney. Most states allow the parties to reschedule.

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The Stipulated Divorce Hearing

During the hearing the judge may speak directly with the parties and ask questions about the case. The judge may also confirm that the parties understand the agreement and that they meet the residency requirements for divorce. Some courts require that you bring a witness to testify concerning the circumstances of your hearing. If the judge doesn't have many questions, the stipulated divorce hearing may take very little time.

The Court's Approval

A judge must approve the stipulated agreement before it can become binding and enforceable. Many stipulated divorce agreements pass the court's review without issue, but courts can nevertheless withhold approval. This sometimes happens when the parties fail to meet the state's residency requirements or the judge does not believe one of the parties understands the terms of the divorce. A judge will also refuse to approve an agreement that violates the law or a relevant public policy.

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What to Expect at a Dissolution Hearing

References

Related articles

What Is an Agreed Entry in a Divorce?

When spouses agree to part ways and concur on all aspects of how they’re going to divorce, there’s no need for a court to get involved. A judge only needs to make their deal official. Spouses can submit their settlement to the court and jointly request to end the marriage; this becomes an agreed entry of divorce. They can handle post-divorce issues in the same manner if changes occur that require modification of their agreement.

How Long Does the Divorce Process Take After the Deposition in Virginia?

Your depositions -- formal statements, either oral or written, that carry the same importance as testimony in court -- play a different role in a Virginia divorce, depending on whether the divorce is contested or not. In contested divorces, spouses do not agree about the terms of the divorce, and in uncontested divorces they do. However, every divorce is different, and the length of time required for your divorce will vary based on the court’s workload.

Questions Asked by the Judge at a Divorce Court Hearing

Judges typically only question spouses directly in uncontested divorce hearings. If you and your spouse are battling out issues at trial, your case is presented differently, through witness testimony and copies of documented proof. However, if you and your spouse have reached an agreement regarding all issues, much of this isn't necessary. The judge will just want to clarify certain issues and create a record of your answers.

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