Questions Asked by the Judge at a Divorce Court Hearing
By Beverly Bird
Judges typically only question spouses directly in uncontested divorce hearings. If you and your spouse are battling out issues at trial, your case is presented differently, through witness testimony and copies of documented proof. However, if you and your spouse have reached an agreement regarding all issues, much of this isn't necessary. The judge will just want to clarify certain issues and create a record of your answers.
If you have a lawyer, it's possible that he may be the one who questions you, not the judge. The whole purpose of questioning is to establish a legal record of the proceedings. The opening questions usually relate to things you can recite in your sleep. What's your name? Who is your spouse and what are your children's names? What are their birthdays? When and where did you get married, and – if applicable – when did you and your spouse separate? Do you really want a divorce?
Confirming Your Grounds
If your divorce is uncontested, you probably filed on no-fault grounds. You may have cited irreconcilable differences, irretrievable breakdown of your marriage, or you and your spouse lived separately for a period of time, depending on your state's available grounds. Whatever your reason for wanting a divorce, the court will probably ask you to confirm that your marriage isn't savable.
All states have residency requirements for divorce, and depending on where you live, your court might want proof that you've met those guidelines. For example, Florida requires that you either produce a state driver's license or you bring a witness to court to substantiate that you really have lived in the state for the required period of time -- but your witness will answer these questions, not you.
Your Marital Settlement Agreement
Your marital settlement agreement – the document you signed with your spouse, resolving all details of your marriage – is typically the focal point of an uncontested divorce hearing. This is the testimony the court really wants to get on record, in case you decide later that what you signed was unfair. The judge, or your lawyer, will ask you if you think the agreement is reasonable and equitable. The court will want to know if you intend to honor its terms. You might be asked to attest that the signatures on the agreement are really those of you and your spouse. If your agreement waives alimony or spousal support, the judge will probably want to ascertain that you fully understand what you're giving up. He might also ask if the financial information you've provided to the court and to your spouse is accurate – you may have to attest that you didn't try to hide any assets or income. At the end of all this, the gavel will bang and you should be divorced.
Beverly Bird is a practicing paralegal who has been writing professionally on legal subjects for over 30 years. She specializes in family law and estate law and has mediated family custody issues.