Many people will be able to reach an agreement with their spouse at some point between exchanging financial information and attending Mediation. When this happens, one of the spouses will go with their attorney to attend what is sometimes referred to as an “Uncontested Final Hearing” in order to finalize the divorce and obtain the “Final Judgment” that legally dissolves the marriage.
The Uncontested Final Hearing is a relatively straightforward court hearing that usually lasts less than five minutes. Typically, only one spouse is required to attend the hearing with their lawyer.
During the hearing, the divorce court judge will review the settlement agreement and will question the spouse to make sure they actually want to be divorced, understand the settlement agreement, and were not forced into the agreement against their will.
If there are children, the divorce court judge will also review certain aspects of the settlement agreement to make sure that it contains adequate provisions for child support and at least gives a basic explanation of each parent’s rights and responsibilities over the children. In nearly all cases, as long as the settlement agreement needs the basic requirements of the law, the judge will accept and approve the agreement.
Otherwise, the only other thing that really happens at this hearing is the judge will require proof that one spouse was a resident of Florida at least six months before the divorce was filed. Usually, establishing this proof does not involve anything more than showing the divorce court judge a copy of a driver’s license with an issue date at least six months before the divorce case was filed.
As long as the residency requirements are established and the divorce court judge accepts the settlement agreement (which nearly always happens), the judge will conclude the Uncontested Final Hearing by signing the Final Judgment and granting the divorce.
As to the Final Judgment itself, it is nothing more than what is usually two or three pages of paper that is signed by the divorce court judge. Prior to the Uncontested Final Hearing, the lawyers for both spouses will prepare and agree to the wording of the Final Judgment and bring copies of the document to the Uncontested Final Hearing for the divorce court judge to sign if he or she approves of the settlement agreement.
The Final Judgment will almost always attach and incorporate the settlement agreement. As a result, the Final judgment effectively operates to require both spouses to follow all of the terms of the settlement agreement, and makes failure to follow the agreement equivalent to violating a court order.
For many people, the divorce court judge signing the Final Judgment at the Uncontested Final Hearing will be the end of the legal case involving their divorce. Hopefully, your divorce will be finalized through this process very early on before time, money, and relationships are burned.