What Is A Stipulation To Hear Uncontested Cause In A Cook County Divorce?
Ninety five percent of divorces in Cook County finalize by agreement rather than be resolved via a full blown trial. When cases do get resolved by agreement, the Cook county divorce court wants to ensure that EVERYTHING is truly resolved and agreed to. So, the Cook county court requires a final stipulation by both parties that (almost) everything is truly agreed.
Stipulations are a good thing in divorce litigation. Stipulations resolve and clarify the issues that come before an Illinois divorce court
“A stipulation, or a judicial admission, is an agreement between the parties or their attorneys with respect to business before the court….There is, however, no absolute rule on the subject.” Lee v. Chicago Transit Authority, 605 NE 2d 493 – Ill: Supreme Court 1992
Unfortunately, stipulations are not required except in the case of uncontested divorces in Cook County, Illinois
In order to get a final prove up date with a Cook County judge who will formally divorce the married couple, Cook County Court Rules insist the parties sign a Stipulation To Hear Uncontested Cause.
“An uncontested cause may be heard when an Uncontested Cause Stipulation is signed by the parties and their attorneys. The parties shall schedule the uncontested hearing with the Clerk of the Circuit Court or, at the preliminary or individual judge’s discretion, directly with the judge or the judge’s coordinator.” Cook County Court Rule 13.5(a)(ii)(b)
The Stipulation To Hear Uncontested Cause form provided by the Cook County Circuit Clerk requires the attorneys for the divorcing parties (or the parties themselves if representing themselves pro se) to swear to the following.
“We, the undersigned attorneys of record, CERTIFY that there are no contested issues in this cause, that all required court fees have been paid, that each counsel is ready to proceed in this matter by uncontested prove-up as in cases of default. In cases where a Supreme Court Rule 298 petition required a party to make payment for fees, the party obligated to make such payment certifies that the required payment has been made. We further CERTIFY that we are prepared to present to the judge on the date of prove-up the following documents: 1. a copy of the appropriate Petition and Respondent’s Appearance and evidence that all court fees have been paid; 2. a copy of this Stipulation and Request to Hear Uncontested Cause signed by the parties; 3. a proposed Judgment including any Marital/Civil Union Settlement Agreement and/or Parenting Plan previously executed by the parties which may be appended thereto; 4. an immediate Order for Support and Notice to Withhold Income for Support; and 5. a completed Application for Child Support Services with the IV-D Agency, where appropriate”
The divorcing parties, themselves, must swear that “We, the undersigned parties, STIPULATE AND AGREE that all matters pending between us, have been settled, agreed and compromised, freely and voluntarily after full disclosure, and we hereby REQUEST that this cause be heard as an uncontested matter”
One thing does NOT have to be stipulated to by the parties: contribution to attorney’s fees. The parties must alert the court if that is a remaining issue, however.
“[W]e have waived our right to a CONTRIBUTION HEARING on the issue of fees and costs, pursuant to 750 ILCS 5/503(j) OR a CONTRIBUTION HEARING will occur subsequent to the prove-up and before Judgment.”
Illinois law allows that contribution for attorney’s fees be reserved until after a case is finalized.
“After proofs have closed in the final hearing on all other issues between the parties, a party’s petition for contribution to fees and costs incurred in the proceeding shall be heard and decided.” 750 ILCS 5/503(j)
After the final prove up when maintenance, child support, the equitable distribution of marital assets and debts are finalized, a court can more accurately determine which party is capable of paying their last marital debt: the attorney’s fees of both parties.
“The court from time to time, after due notice and hearing, and after considering the financial resources of the parties, may order any party to pay a reasonable amount for his own or the other party’s costs and attorney’s fees.” 750 ILCS 5/508
Once the Stipulation To Hear Uncontested Cause is signed the parties are expected to file that form with the Clerk of Circuit Court of Cook County and submit the following to the judge’s coordinator.
“The parties shall submit to the court at the time of prove-up the following:
1. A proposed Judgment for Dissolution of Marriage or Civil Union;
2. A signed settlement agreement, if any;
3. A Parenting Plan when relevant; and
4. An Order for Support when relevant.” Cook County Court Rule 13.5(a)(ii)(c)
At this point, the stipulation is signed and final documents are signed. There is no turning back. The actual divorce is a mere formality as your agreements will be considered binding. “[A] settlement agreement incorporated into a judgment for dissolution will not be vacated based on a mere change of heart of one of the parties.” In re Marriage of Morris, 147 Ill.App.3d 380, 395-96, 100 Ill.Dec. 811, 497 N.E.2d 1173 (1986).
If you’re struggling with finalizing your Cook County divorce or making sense of the myriad of rules and regulations that are required to finally break the bonds of matrimony, contact my Chicago, Illinois family law firm to learn more about how to finally get divorced.