The final date before the Judge in a divorce case is often referred to as the prove-up date. It is where a recitation, including testimony of the petitioner, is presented before the court. It is basically a final request by the petitioner to have a Judgment for Dissolution entered before the court so that the terms of the agreement become embodied in a court order.
The first part of the prove-up is the introduction by the attorney. The attorney will set the facts to be presented before the court. The attorney will tender to either the Judge or the Clerk of Court the appropriate documentation in order to proceed. The documents typically include:
1) Proposed Judgment for Dissolution;
2) Settlement Agreement;
3) Joint Parenting Agreement (if applicable);
4) Stipulation by the parties;
5) Military Affidavits; and
6) Other documents required by local or county rule.
The attorney will begin to examine the petitioner in open court. The petitioner will answer yes/no questions pertaining to the facts of the case. For example, the attorney may ask: please state your name and address for the record. Were you married on such and such date in the city of wherever? Were there any children born to or adopted by the parties and are you currently pregnant?
The attorney will then move to the particular Judgment and Settlement Agreement at issue. The petitioner will likely identify the signatures that appear throughout the Judgment as hers and her spouses. The attorney will then illustrate the important provision to see if the petitioner agrees will the terms therein and if she wishes to be bound by said terms. The court will then likely have a few questions for the petitioner. The court likes to have the topic of maintenance addressed. If there is a maintenance provision, the court will recite the terms, amount, duration, etc. If there is no award of maintenance, the court will make sure that the party is aware of the waiver of maintenance and of the inability to come back into court at a later date to seek maintenance.
Provided the court is satisfied with the terms of the Judgment and provided that all statutory requirements are met, the court will likely enter the Judgment instanter. Once the Judgment is signed, it becomes the legal document binding the parties from that day forward. Any issues that arise after the judgment is entered are considered post-decree. Most final court dates are heard without incident. In a minority of cases, the Judge may wish that additional language be added, removed or clarified prior to entry.
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