An action for an uncontested divorce due to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage begins after the spouses have signed an agreement addressing all issues. In order to be assigned a court date to appear before a judge to have your divorce entered, a full “package” must be filed with the court in advance, with a request for assignment of the case to a judge for an uncontested hearing.
Included in this uncontested “package”:
- A joint petition for divorce signed by both parties and/or their attorneys (court form);
- Certified copy of the marriage certificate;
- A sworn affidavit that is either jointly or separately completed by the parties attesting to the fact that an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage exists;
- Statistical court forms (aka R-408)
- Fully executed financial statements by both spouses (court issued financial forms);
- If there are unemancipated children, then a completed Child Support Guideline must be included. If the agreed amount to be paid is less than the calculation of the guideline amount, then a rationale for deviation must be submitted and approved by the divorce judge.
- A notarized separation agreement executed by the parties; and
- A request that the matter be marked for an uncontested hearing. (court form)
Once a complete package of divorce documents are filed with the court and the filing fee paid, a hearing will be scheduled before a judge.
At this hearing, which generally does not last long, the judge will review the terms of the separation agreement to determine if the agreement is fair and reasonable. A judge also focuses on any issues involving children, as the judge stands “in loco parentis” meaning that the judge stands in the place of parents to make an independent analysis to ensure that a child’s issues are adequately addressed.
After the judge has an opportunity to review the divorce agreement, also known as the separation agreement, the judge will hear testimony by the plaintiff that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The judge will inquire whether both spouses had an opportunity to review the other’s financial statement and confirm that each has made a full disclosure on their own financial statement. Thereafter, the judge will inquire of each spouse to confirm that he/she has read the agreement, understands the terms to which each agreed, whether either party obtained legal representation and if not, had the opportunity to do so. Once the judge is satisfied that with the responses, the divorce judgment will enter thirty (30) days from the hearing and thereafter, the divorce will be final ninety (90) days thereafter; total of 120 days from the date of the uncontested divorce hearing.
Finally, in any type of divorce before the ninety day (aka “Nisi”) period has run in which your divorce becomes finalized, by mutual agreement (affidavit signed by both spouses), the spouses may stop the divorce from becoming final and remained married.