What Is a Divorce Decree?

Deciding to get a divorce is usually not an easy choice. It represents the end of a life you had led up to that point and the beginning of a new and hopefully better one. That is why having an Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins divorce attorney by your side during this difficult transition is essential. You need someone who can explain to you the best way to approach each aspect of the divorce including child custody, visitation rights, alimony, division of assets, and many others. A divorce attorney will be with you until you obtain your divorce decree and the marriage is finalized.


Understanding a Divorce Decree

A divorce decree contains the terms of your divorce. These are all the subjects that were so carefully thought out and negotiated between the parties, not always in the friendliest of ways but ultimately meant to satisfy both sides.

A divorce decree is a powerful document because it is issued by the court and binds both ex-spouses by its terms. However, it also allows both parties to enforce it.


Divorce Decree Process

A couple that decides to divorce must come to an agreement regarding many aspects of their lives. Sometimes, this may be achieved by collaboration between both parties who then put down their terms on a written settlement agreement. Others arrive at their decisions through mediation or with the help of their respective lawyers.

Once that document is ready and both parties are satisfied with its contents, they present it to the court. The judge may either transcribe the terms into the divorce decree, although this is becoming rarer, or they may attach the agreement or make reference to it in the final divorce decree.


What Information Do Divorce Decrees Generally Include?

There is no standard template for a divorce decree but most of them include these items.

  • The identifying information of each ex-spouse, including their names, addresses, and dates of birth. If a spouse is retaking a maiden name, the new name may appear here and it is considered a legal name change.
  • The identifying information of the children, if there are any. Although this usually refers to minor children, in some cases and when it is relevant, adult children may also be named here.
  • The court’s address and telephone number.
  • Identifying information on the lawyers that worked on the case.
  • The case number
  • The date on which the marriage officially ends
  • The name of the judge
  • A declaration stating that the divorce is now considered to be final


What Subjects Does a Divorce Decree Normally Cover?

There are many important subjects that must be spelled out fully in a divorce decree and they may include:

  • How any property will be divided
  • How any debts will be handled
  • How time with the children will be divided and how custody will work
  • Child support
  • Alimony or spousal support
  • Division of any retirement accounts
  • Any other topics that are relevant to the parties

Once all these issues have been decided upon, both parties must sign the document as well as their attorneys. The judge is the one to add the final signature. By having the judge’s signature, the document becomes official. This is accompanied by a stamp of the official court seal.

As soon as the divorce is finalized, it is recommended that the parties approach the family court clerk and request a certified copy of the divorce decree with the court’s official seal on it. This will be a document that may have to be presented in several situations in the future and having a certified copy will make those instances run much more smoothly.