In legal terms, a stipulation means there's no need for the court to rule on a certain issue, because the parties to the lawsuit already agree on it. You and your spouse might stipulate to certain facts as part of your divorce trial, such as the date you were married or separated, or the number of children you have. These things are not in dispute. You can also stipulate to a resolution of all issues and avoid a trial entirely.
An Agreement By Any Other Name
Divorce laws can become complicated when the same process goes by different names in various states. In California, a divorce stipulation agreement is called a stipulated judgment, and in Minnesota, it's called a stipulated divorce decree. By any name, if you reach such an agreement, it means your divorce is uncontested. There's no need for a trial because there's nothing for the judge to decide. To avoid trial, your agreement must encompass every possible issue, from property and debt division to custody and child support.
You're not officially divorced until you submit your agreement to the court for a judge's approval. He will usually give it as long as your agreement isn't grossly unfair to one of you, and if you haven't made any legal errors, such as both of you using the same attorney for advice. When the judge signs off on the agreement, its terms create your divorce judgment or decree.
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images