In a collaborate divorce, many wonder about the role of the judge. In other words, when does the judge come into play? How important is the judge? Parties even wonder whether they will end up seeing the judge?
The truth is that in collaborative divorce, parties work together to try to reach a settlement outside of court. They work with a collaborative team to try to reach a settlement. The collaborative team is comprised of collaborative divorce lawyers for both sides, a divorce coach and, in some cases, a financial neutral and child custody professional.
After a number of meetings, the hope is that the parties can reach a settlement. The parties might just need a few meetings. In other cases, to reach a settlement, the parties might need to engage in many meetings. Some meetings may comprise a certain number of people from the collaborative team. Others might comprise the whole team.
After a settlement is reached, the parties have to put together a comprehensive written settlement agreement. The comprehensive written settlement is to be signed by both of the parties and their collaborative divorce lawyers.
After this has occurred, the settlement paperwork will have to be presented to the judge. The reality, however, is that in many cases, the parties will never end up seeing the judge. This is because many collaborative divorce matters can be presented based on the signed settlement agreement and the affidavit of the parties.
In these cases, the role of the judge is to review the paperwork and make sure that it is not unconscionable. If it is not unconscionable, most family court judges will sign the settlement paperwork to conclude the case and make it the judgment and order of the court. This standard of what is unconscionable can seem a little fuzzy to some. But in simple terms, it means that the agreement is not so one-sided that it shocks the conscience.
It might be in certain cases that the judge may want to do an uncontested divorce hearing where both parties affirm that they have agreed to and entered into a settlement. This might be needed where there are children or lots of assets. But, often, the parties will never end up even seeing the judge in collaborative divorce.