What is a Stipulation in a Family Law Proceeding?

Family law matters can get very complicated very quickly, but they don’t always have to be dealt with in a court environment. Stipulations within family law proceedings can make the overall process faster, easier, and less stressful on both parties. So, what is a stipulation?

Family law matters often concern the following common disputes:

  • Division of debt
  • Division of community property
  • Spousal Maintenance
  • Child custody (now known as “Legal Decision-Making”) and visitation (now known as “Parenting Time”) rights
  • Child support payments

If these complex issues can be worked out between the involved parties, the end agreement, or even temporary agreements can be formalized with a stipulation. This agreement between the two parties is then submitted to a judge for approval, without the need for a court hearing. Judgment can then be passed without either party having to set foot in the courtroom.

By formalizing the agreement and having it ordered by the judge, either party can be held legally accountable if they deviate from the agreed terms.

This is a favorable option for many during marital disputes, as it means those involved have more to go on than just the other person’s word.

The Benefits of a Stipulation

A stipulation will allow both parties to amicably agree between themselves on such matters as child custody, division of assets, and child support, or temporary orders relating to these issues. Some of the key benefits of this process include:

  • Issues can be agreed upon in detail and laid out in a formal legal document
  • A court hearing isn’t needed
  • It’s quicker, as less paperwork is involved with a stipulation.

Can a Stipulation be Overturned?

Stipulations in family law are treated the same as any standard contract. Since both parties have knowingly signed, it can be incredibly difficult to overturn as the court will be reluctant to do so.

If the agreements set out in the stipulation are deemed to be overly unfair or weighted heavily in favor of one party over the other, it may be overturned. The Court has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring even agreements are fair and equitable to the parties and in the best interests of any children involved.

Is a Stipulation Right for You?

Stipulations are usually better at resolving issues between parties, as agreements are made directly between them, as opposed to on their behalf by a judge. Before settling on a stipulation as the right option for you, it’s advisable to get in touch with a local family law attorney for guidance on your specific situation.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding What is a Stipulation?, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Lindsay A.M. Olivarez at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.