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The Final Judgment

Whether you resolved your case with an MSA, at the R&SC or at trial, judgment will be entered on all the issues raised in your divorce case, to set forth all the terms resolving these issues and make the appropriate orders. You asked the court at the outset to end your marriage, divide your property, order support and schedule custody and visitation. This is the way the court does it, in its final judgment ending the controversy.

If you settled using a Marital Settlement Agreement, you will have judgment entered on your agreement. The judgment may approve the agreement and incorporate parts of the MSA, it may incorporate the entire MSA into the judgment, changing it into a judgment instead of a contract, or it may be "Pursuant to Stipulation."

After a trial, the judgment sets forth the resolution of every problem presented to the court. "Judgment after Trial" contains the decisions, orders and occasionally the reasons for certain orders to make clear in the future what the facts were at trial should someone ask for a modification. The divorce between you and your spouse, that is, termination of your marital status, is also part of this document, unless this was separated and handled earlier.

The court doesn’t prepare the judgment. One attorney will prepare it from the court’s Intended Decision, which is the document that pronounces the judge’s decision. The other attorney approves the form of judgment when it satisfactorily tracks the judge’s decision, and returns it for the judge to sign and be entered in the records.

Carry out the terms of the judgment without delay. Set a date for exchanging property and documents as close as practical to the MSA signing, if that is how you concluded the case, or as soon as judgment is entered following trial. Titles to automobiles must be signed and handed over, investments may require transferring, deeds may be signed and notarized, financial or other documents listing items for sale may have to be executed and a schedule for transferring personal property agreed upon.