Family law matters usually deal with one or more of the following issues:
- Division of community and/or marital property
- Division of debt
- Custody and visitation of children
- Payment of child and/or spousal support
If parties are able to work out these important issues, without court intervention, they can finalize their agreement by executing a Stipulation and Order or Marital Settlement Agreement. This not only makes the process less stressful for the individuals, but it also saves the parties time and money. The process becomes cheaper, faster, less stressful, and less harmful to children and relationships than going to court.
- With a Marital Settlement Agreement, the parties can address certain issues with more detail, depth and flexibility than possible in a judgment without a Marital Settlement Agreement.
- Judgment can be entered without a court hearing.
- The Marital Settlement Agreement becomes the core of the Judgment. This means that the parties get to decide every aspect of their marital issues in their own language rather than having a judge decide these issues.
- Final judgment paperwork is usually shorter because all of the issues can be addressed in the agreement rather than the numerous “Attachment-to-Judgment” forms otherwise required in default matters resolved without an agreement.
By choosing to negotiate with each other instead of hiring a lawyer to make “winning” arguments to a judge, parties can usually achieve an agreement that resolves all of the issues of their marriage and that both are happy with. This often helps to avoid post-judgment disagreement.
Another use of a Stipulation or Agreement is to resolve contested issues that the parties have worked out between them – resolving a contested issue that is now “uncontested” or agreed to. For example, one party may have filed a motion to modify custody and visitation. After the filing of the motion, if the parties are able to work out the issues, they can execute a Stipulation and Order signed by both of them and submit it to the court for the judge to make a formal “Order.” With a filed Stipulation and Order, the agreement of the parties becomes a court order and the hearing is taken off calendar.
Stipulations can be filed to resolve a number of issues, if the parties can agree. Some of these issues could be pertaining to:
- Move-away orders
- Selling of property
- Modification or termination of spousal support