Post Settlement Final Hearing – What to Expect
Before looking at what to expect at a post settlement final hearing it is important to understand when parties would be using a post settlement final hearing. Post settlement means after a settlement has been finalized by the parties in question for their case being adjudicated. In other words, for example, in dissolution of marriage (divorce) when there are no minor children, no jointly owned real property, and all issues including equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities and alimony have been worked out and the proper paperwork filled out, signed by both parties, notarized and witnessed the action can be termed a simple or uncontested dissolution of marriage and go straight to the judge for a final settlement hearing. Too, when a mediation has been successful the resulting signed, notarized, and witnessed document will be presented to a judge for final judgment.
What can you expect at a post settlement hearing?
First, you may want to know how long it will take for the hearing to be placed on the judge’s calendar. In most jurisdictions, there is a wait of at least a week and depending on how full the docket is, it could be a month, but not usually more. While an attorney is not required at this point, it is wise to use one as he or she is familiar with the process and can often get a final hearing in less time. The hearing itself lasts from 5 to 15 minutes unless a judge has more questions than normal, which is unusual. There are usually a number of couples waiting for their marriage to be dissolved and the judge assumes those appearing in his or her court have already worked out all the details of their settlement.
While both parties can be present, only the petitioner (filing party) is required to be present. The petitioner or spouse must have proof of residency in Florida for at least the six months prior to filing a petition for the dissolution of marriage. This proof can be a valid driver’s license or voter’s registration card. Proof can also be provided by a witness who can swear to the length of time the party has lived in Florida or signed and notarized Affidavit Corroborating Residency.
Before the judge will make the decree final he or she, or if the plaintiff has an attorney the attorney will usually ask several questions. These questions include:
- Show proof of name and residency
- Show proof of how long you have been a resident of Florida
- Who is your spouse and are you separated? As Florida is a no-fault state only one person needs to feel the marriage should be dissolved and this is usually the petitioner. The question will be asked if the marriage is irrevocably broken and if perhaps marriage counseling could help change things. A simple “no” answer is all that is required.
- Have there been any children born of or adopted during the marriage? If yes, then if any are minors they will need to be identified. Also, the question will be asked if both parties have taken the required, state approved, parenting class. The judge will also make sure the required parenting plan is properly signed by both parties and in place. If the woman is currently pregnant the judge will ask if both parties have filed their Unborn Child Custody Jurisdictional Affidavit.
- If the woman wants her last name changed this is a good time to do so. There are a number of questions a judge will ask to be sure the name change is not being done to hide from legal responsibilities such as debts or ulterior, illegal purposes, or when civil rights have been taken away and not restored.
- The final settlement paperwork will be submitted to the judge. Questions will be asked regarding the final marriage settlement to be sure both parties have properly signed the agreement without duress or undue pressure. Identity of the signatures will be asked for as well.
When all the above has been asked about and answered to the satisfaction of the judge, the final judgment will be pronounced and the marriage dissolved. While all this may sound confusing, it will go smoothly when what to be expected is made clear. It really helps to have an experienced, Family Law attorney. If you live in Palm Beach, Martin, St.Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, or Hillsborough county in Florida or in Washington DC Attorney Grant Gisondo can guide you successfully through a dissolution of marriage, child support, or post judgment modification case and when a post settlement hearing becomes necessary, he will know what to do and how to help. Attorney Gisondo offers a free, initial, in-office consultation where he will meet with you personally to answer your questions and share his insights. Call (561) 530-4568 for an appointment.