If a divorcing couple (and their attorneys) negotiates and resolves all issues related to their divorce, whether informally or through out-of-court processes like mediation or collaborative law, the couple’s decisions are finalized in detail in a written settlement agreement. This agreement is then shown to a Judge in the county/district branch of state court where the divorce petition was filed. An informal hearing will usually follow, during which the Judge will ask some basic factual questions, and whether each party understands and chose to voluntarily sign the agreement. As long as the Judge is satisfied that the agreement was fairly negotiated, and the terms do not appear to blatantly favor one spouse over the other, the settlement agreement will almost always receive court approval.
A divorcing couple may reach settlement on a number of issues related to the divorce, but might find themselves unable to agree on other questions. If this happens, a partial settlement might be reached, and the remaining unresolved issues will be submitted to the court for resolution. For example, if the couple has worked out a voluntary settlement on all issues related to their children (child custody rights, a visitation schedule, payment of support) but cannot agree on what to do with the family’s vacation home, the court might approve a partial settlement agreement on custody and support, but will order that the property issue be submitted for resolution at trial.
*The material stated above should not be considered as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are in need of legal advice concerning divorce, you are encouraged to contact one of our experienced divorce attorneys who can assist you with your questions or concerns.