What are the Questions Asked During a Final Hearing?

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Important Tips and Information to Prepare for the Uncontested Final Hearing for Dissolution of Marriage

 

First, we would like to congratulate you on reaching the conclusion of your divorce by attending an Uncontested Final Hearing in your case. We hope to focus on the positive outcome of this matter with the successful conclusion of your divorce proceeding, so you can move on to a new, better chapter in your life.

This Final Hearing is a relatively simple, but important, legal proceeding in court – and our goal is to help you complete it as smoothly and as quickly as possible. In furtherance of this goal, we created this pamphlet for you to carefully review. By reviewing this information you will know what to expect and be ready to provide the requested information, in addition to identifying and resolving any potential issues with your attorney prior to the hearing to the extent possible.

 

Overview of the Final Hearing Process

 

In order to finalize your divorce case after a settlement agreement, judges require that at least one of the spouses (usually the party filing the divorce) attend a simple court proceeding known as a “Final Hearing.” This important hearing allows the judge to decide whether the divorce case is legally eligible for a “Final Judgment.” This Final Judgment is an important legal document that formally terminates the marriage and incorporates the terms and conditions of the settlement so that the agreement becomes legally enforceable thereafter. This is the final step of the divorce process.

The actual hearing should take about ten to fifteen minutes, but judge would likely hold your hearing within the same “block of time” as other cases. So, while your actual hearing may take only ten minutes, we may have to wait until the case is called, which could take more than an hour. So please be sure to give yourself plenty of time to attend this hearing.

Every judge handles this proceeding a little differently, but they all follow the basic format described in this pamphlet to ensure the case is legally eligible for a Final Judgment, as listed below.

 

How to Prepare

 

Proper Dress: While this simple proceeding should normally take only a few minutes, it is still a formal hearing before a judge in a court of law. You should dress properly. Conservative business or business-casual attire is preferred.

Cellular Telephones / Personal Devices: Please be sure all of your personal devices are turned off while in the courtroom to avoid interrupting court proceedings.

Florida Driver’s License / Government Issued Identification: Please bring government-issued identification such as a Florida Driver’s License, which will help confirm your identity and prove your residency in the state of Florida for a minimum of six months prior to the filing of the divorce. Please be sure your identification shows it was issued on a date that is at least six months prior to the filing of the divorce. If not, speak with your attorney as soon as possible before the Hearing about obtaining alternate forms of identification or an affidavit from a corroborating witness.

Review your Notice of Hearing and Be Punctual: It is important to be on time for this court proceeding. In fact, try to be there early if you can. You should carefully review the “Notice of Hearing” that your attorney provided, to ensure you have the correct date/ time, and address for the courthouse. You should bring this Notice of Hearing with you in the event you need any assistance. You should also allow yourself additional time to find parking and go through security to gain access to the courtroom, where you will be meeting with your attorney prior to the hearing. If any unforeseen emergency arises, contact your attorney’s office as soon as possible. If your case is called before you arrive, most judges would agree to call your case later, to give you more time to arrive. If you are still not able to arrive at your hearing, it can be rescheduled for a later date.

Legal Documents: Your attorney will have the copies of important legal documents, such as the Marital Settlement Agreement and other legal documents as needed to show the parties have reached a settlement. As your hearing concludes successfully, your attorney will also provide the judge with a proposed Final Judgment that will incorporate the terms and conditions of your settlement agreement, which will be signed and stamped by the court. You will be legally divorced as of the moment the Final Judgment is approved.

 

Potential Questions Asked During A Final Hearing

 

The judge will have you to take an oath to tell the truth, and then ask your attorney to provide basic information to show that your case is eligible for a final judgment. Some judges may also ask additional questions. You should be ready to answer the following basic questions, keeping your answers short, direct and to the point.

Florida Residency: You may be asked if you (and/or your spouse) were a Florida resident for at least 6 months prior to the filing of the divorce as required by law. You can simply answer Yes, as applicable.

Reason for Divorce: You may be asked why you are seeking a divorce. Florida law allows divorce where at least one of the parties believes the marriage is “irretrievably broken” for any reason. Again, keep your answer short and simple. Answers such as “we don’t love each other anymore” or “we don’t get along” or “the relationship is broken” are legally sufficient. If the judge asks if you believe marriage counseling would assist you with avoiding the divorce, you can simply answer No, as applicable.

Children & Pregnancy: The judge may ask to identify the children who were born or adopted during the marriage, and confirm that the female spouse is not pregnant. If there are any children, the judge may confirm whether the spouses completed the required parenting courses and affidavits.

Name Change: If applicable, you can take this opportunity to restore your maiden name if you wish to do so. Please be sure to tell your attorney prior to the hearing to ensure this is done properly. If so, the judge will confirm whether you are eligible for the name change for divorce purposes, and not for any other illegal purpose. For example, the judge may ask if you have ever been charged with a crime or been required to register as a sexual predator; whether there are any money judgments against you; if you ever filed for bankruptcy; or whether your civil rights were ever suspended.

Confirmation of Agreement: The judge may review the settlement agreement to confirm your signature on the agreement and whether you signed the agreement freely and voluntarily without any duress. The judge may also ask whether you still desire a “Final Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage” pursuant to the settlement agreement. You can simply answer Yes to these questions, as applicable.

 

Sample Script

 

This is an example of the questions that are normally asked in a Final Hearing:

  • Do you swear or affirm that the evidence you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
  • Please state your full name for the Court.
  • What is your *Spouse’s*name?
  • How long have you been married?
  • How long have you been a resident of the State of Florida?
  • Is your marriage irretrievably broken?
  • Do you have any minor children?
  • What are their names and dates of birth?
  • Are you currently expecting / Is your Wife currently expecting?
  • Did you and your *Spouse* enter into a Marital Settlement Agreement (and Parenting Plan) on [date]?
  • Did you enter into this Agreement freely and voluntarily?
  • Does this Agreement resolve any and all issues regarding your marital assets and liabilities and the minor children?
  • Is there anything left for the Court to decide?
  • Are you asking the Court to order that you and your *Spouse*abide by this Agreement?
  • Are you asking the Court to enter a Final Judgment dissolving your marriage?

Your divorce attorney will be able to handle the remainder of the proceeding as needed.

Again, if you have any questions or concerns as you review this information, please contact your attorney to discuss these concerns as soon as possible before the hearing. Such issues can usually be quickly resolved prior to the hearing and, if not, it may be best to simply postpone the hearing until the issues can be resolved. If any problems do arise during the hearing, stay calm and polite. Keep in mind that your attorney can ask that the hearing be postponed to a future date to allow more time to resolve the issues, and then return to conclude the hearing at a later date.

Copyright © 2024. Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm. All rights reserved. 

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Divorce & Mediation Law Firm | Cabanas Law Firm
18503 Pines Blvd, Suite 301
Pembroke Pines, FL 33029
(954) 447-2580
https://cabanaslawfirm.com

Sergio Cabanas, Esq. | Family Law Attorney | Cabanas Law Firm
Author

Sergio Cabanas, Esq. founded the Cabanas Law Firm in 2006 and provides Divorce and Family legal services, as well as Estate Planning, to ensure his clients have planned for their newly single life and are protected after their divorce. He began his career in law in 1992 as a prosecuting attorney at the Broward County State Attorney’s Office, then continued his litigation track as an insurance defense attorney defending medical professionals against medical malpractice claims and expanded into disability and life insurance claims. Sergio is a Certified Mediator registered in the Supreme Court of Florida and a frequent speaker in the community about the importance of Estate Planning to keep families out of probate court and to prepare essential instructions in the event of disability or incapacity.