What should I expect at my final divorce court hearing?
You will either attend a default divorce hearing or a contest divorce trial.
A default divorce hearing means that your case is not contested. You have reached an agreement on all aspects of your divorce. At a default divorce hearing you will go over your final Marital Settlement Agreement. You will actually testify that you agree to everything. You may get on the witness stand or sit next to your attorney at counsel’s table. You will be put “under oath” or “sworn in” to testify. You will also have to have your financial disclosure statement completed for that hearing. Both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will testify by your attorney and his or her attorney asking each of you questions. Then the judge will grant you both the judgment of divorce. This hearing generally takes about 20 to 30 minutes. Your Marital Settlement Agreement will be attached to a Judgment and this will become what is commonly referred to as your “divorce decree.”
A contested divorce trial, means you have not reached an agreement on some or all aspects of your case. This is a court trial or trial to the judge, not to a jury. You will testify. You may have witnesses testify. Your attorney may present exhibits. All of these things are to prove that you should get what you are asking for in your divorce. Your soon-to-be ex-spouse will do the same. The judge will then make a ruling. He or she may do that the day of your trial or he or she may take time—days to weeks or even months—to do so. The judge may ask for written or oral arguments on the law from the attorneys. The trial can last a couple hours or days. The length of your trial and the evidence presented will depend on the issues you have not agreed upon.