What Is a Divorce Decree?

Posted in uncategorized on April 30, 2021

A divorce decree makes the dissolution of a marriage official. It is a judge’s final ruling that terminates the marriage in the eyes of the law. The divorce decree includes a final judgment with directions for property division, child support, child custody and visitation, spousal support, and additional information that is pertinent to the case.

Parties involved in the divorce case legally must follow the directions in the divorce decree. Failure to do so could lead to a motion for contempt. Learn what to do after you receive your divorce decree, as well as how a divorce attorney in Solana Beach can help you understand this legal document.

When Are Divorce Decrees Issued in California?

A final divorce decree is issued when the court overseeing the case signs the order that grants a termination of marriage. Once the court signs the divorce decree, the divorce is final. The couple will no longer be married in the eyes of the law and will be unable to reverse the divorce. If they reconcile, the couple will have to remarry.

Most divorce decrees are issued after a couple works together to create a divorce settlement or goes to trial before a judge. In the first scenario, the couple can work alone or with a mediator to compromise on the terms of the divorce. Then, the couple will submit its parenting plan and settlement agreement to a judge to sign off on it. Once the judge signs, the court will issue a divorce decree.

In the second scenario, the couple – and their attorneys, in most cases – will go to trial to present the case before a judge. Each spouse will state his or her case and present evidence, if applicable. Then, the judge will issue a divorce decree containing his or her judgments.

The third scenario is if one spouse files for divorce and the other never responds. This will lead to an uncontested divorce, where a judge will sign a divorce decree without taking the wishes of the nonresponsive party into consideration.

Divorce Decree vs. Divorce Certificate

It is important to note that a divorce certificate is not the same thing as a divorce decree. Unlike a divorce decree, a divorce certificate is not issued by a court. The divorce certificate is a document prepared by your state’s health department or bureau of vital statistics. It is simply a document that states you are divorced and lists the basic facts about the divorce.

You can use your divorce certificate to get your name changed or show proof of your divorce. A divorce decree, on the other hand, will have edicts for you to follow about spousal support, child support, etc.

What Should I Do After Receiving a Divorce Decree?

Once the courts finalize your dissolution of marriage and you receive your divorce decree, take a few steps to protect yourself legally and make sure you are obeying the terms of the decree. Taking the following actions can help you move forward with peace of mind:

  • Read the decree and have legal counsel read it for accuracy. Bring your divorce decree to an attorney to go over it with you. This can ensure you fully understand its terms.
  • Change your will, if needed. If your former spouse is still listed in your will, contact your family law attorney to make the necessary changes.
  • Cancel and/or change your credit cards. If you have any credit cards connected to your ex-spouse or a joint account, cancel them or change them to your name only.
  • Put financial accounts that belong to you in your name only. Protect your assets by taking your former partner’s name off of all financial accounts that belong only to you.
  • Make sure your former spouse is complying. If your ex does not comply with the divorce decree, you could still be held liable for his or her portion of your marital debt.

For more information or legal advice about a divorce decree in California, consult with an attorney at Ratzer|Dobis today. An attorney can help you with all aspects of your divorce case, including obtaining and obeying a divorce decree.