Some divorcing couples agree on all the terms of their divorce. Here’s what you need to know about stipulated judgments in California marriage settlements.

A stipulated judgment is an agreement in uncontested divorce cases that discusses details about child support, child custody and visitation, division of property, etc. Both couples need to fully agree on everything they wish to divide before writing and signing these agreements. Once signed, the stipulated judgment is legally binding, and both parties in the divorce must fully obey all of the agreed-upon terms unless they wish to go to trial.

What Is a Stipulated Judgement?

A stipulated judgment is a short document in uncontested divorce cases that contains agreements between divorcing spouses concerning child support, child custody, visitation, spousal support, division of property, and any other agreements related to the couple.

Related: How to Get an Uncontested Divorce in California

An uncontested divorce case is a divorce in which both spouses agree on all the issues required to end their marriage. In order to be effective, a stipulated judgment must be signed by both spouses. Both spouses must sign it freely and voluntarily, and then the judgment will be submitted to the court for approval. Once a stipulated judgment is completed and attached and incorporated into a Judgment of Dissolution (FL-180) or Judgment of Paternity (FL-250), it becomes a court order, and the terms are enforceable by civil and criminal penalties.

Related: 5 Things to Consider in a Divorce Agreement

What Is Included in a Stipulated Judgment?

The terms included in a stipulated agreement vary on a case-by-case basis and depend on the issues involved in the case. For example, in couples with no children, “child support”, “child custody”, and “visitation” will be very basic, if not nonexistent. On the other hand, parties with children will have a detailed parenting plan in their judgments. If the parties agree on spousal support, then provisions should be included concerning the obligations of each spouse. Stipulated judgments could also include more niche provisions, such as future obligations, tax filings, which party gets what vehicle, etc. These agreements should also include terms for paying back attorney fees, costs, and prejudgment interests if the stipulation needs to be enforced.

To ensure that a stipulated judgment is upheld, couples should explain in the judgment the reasonableness of the judgment amount, including calculations or considerations used to determine the judgment amount. A significant disparity between the judgment amount and total settlement payment will raise red flags, so couples should carefully consider their agreement to a judgment amount.

Related: Mistakes to Avoid in a California Divorce Settlement

How Must a Stipulated Judgement Be Written and Submitted?

All stipulated judgments must be notarized. Both spouses should make sure that when they are signing their agreement, they understand everything that they are agreeing to.

When couples are writing up their agreements, they may be required to use an official form provided by the courts, such as the Stipulation to Establish or Modify Child Support (Form FL-350). But in most cases, couples can use forms that fit their situation or write on pleading paper.

FAQs About Stipulated Judgments in California Marriage Settlements

What are the benefits of a stipulated judgment?

A stipulated judgment allows couples to legally discuss their case without spending all the time and money that is usually involved in a trial.

What are the risks of a stipulated judgment?

A stipulated judgment is legally binding. This means that once the agreement is signed and approved by the court, both spouses are no longer able to change their minds about what is in the agreement without going to trial. This is why it is extremely important to completely understand and agree with everything that is in a stipulated judgment prior to signing it.

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