What Is a Divorce Decree?

August 17, 2021

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You have finally decided to break off your marriage, filed the case, and are now waiting for a final court order. When will I officially get divorced? It is one of the nagging questions asked by the people who deal with the fallout. Legally speaking, divorce is not final until you get a signed copy of the divorce decree. Now you might be thinking, what’s a divorce decree? Sometimes called a “divorce judgment” or “judgment for dissolution of marriage .”

The divorce decree is the court’s final order stating the marriage’s dissolution. 

However, each divorce decree varies from country to country. Still, in general, the reason for the declaration is, to sum up, the rights and obligations of each party regarding the divorce. 

Divorce decrees are significant because the divorce process is still in progress. You’re still left to receive a copy of your divorce decree. So, one can’t predict the party’s status as married or divorced until the person doesn’t get a divorce decree. In addition, pending divorce proceedings may impact various everyday issues, like property division, debt, charges, child support, etc.

What Does a Divorce Decree Contain?

Divorce decree usually contains: 

  • Spousal Support
  • Child support and custody
  • Property of the division

You can also read about the divorce settlement agreement checklist to understand these topics in a detailed manner.

Moreover, it also addresses important issues like basic information related to the case, when the divorce took place, the case number, and both parties’ full names. All this information can frequently help find divorce decree records later on, which are regularly kept by the local country’s records office.

How do I get a copy of my Divorce Decree?

To obtain a copy of the divorce decree, the person has to visit or write to the “vital state office” in the state where the event has taken place. To make sure that you have received an accurate record of your request, follow the steps mentioned below – 

  1. Write your letter concisely and to the point.
  2. Write clear and crisp content while making requests. 
  3. Don’t forget that you need to enter no more than two requests.
  4. Mention all the names and addresses carefully.
  5. Don’t forget to provide a S.A.S.E. (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope).
  6. Mention all the dates and events properly.
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Don’t forget to include the below-written information –

  1. Request date
  2. Husband’s full name (last name must be in Capslock)
  3. Wife’s full name 
  4. Divorce date
  5. Divorce’s Place
  6. Final decree type
  7. State the purpose for which records are required
  8. Name and address of requestor’s
  9. Signature of requestor 

If over ten years have passed, the court clerk’s office may presently not have a duplicate of the divorce order. You can check with the vital records department or the registrar’s office. Alternatively, you can contact your state branch of records.

What to do if a divorce takes place in another country?

If your divorce occurred in a country other than the U.S., but now you’re living in the U.S., the person has to contact the country’s embassy or nearest consulate. They can guide you further on getting a copy of the divorce decree.

However, U.S. law doesn’t require its citizens to register a foreign divorce decree at a U.S. embassy. But suppose the country in which your divorce took place is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Authentication of Documents. In that case, bring your divorce decree to a U.S. embassy or consulate to get it certified. 

What to do when Your ex doesn’t comply with your Divorce Decree?

When getting a divorce, the court has certain obligations that need to be followed by the ex- spouses. Occasionally if an ex-spouse is not fulfilling them in that scenario, you possess the exclusive right to seek the divorce decree through the courts. However, before taking steps to file enforcement in court, the person filing the complaint must ensure that all personal responsibilities are met from their side.

We have mentioned some ways of what to do when your ex does not comply with your divorce decree.

1. Determine the Gaps

Firstly, the important thing is to list the violations your ex-spouse fails to abide by as per the divorce decree. For example, it can be a failure to provide child support money or a breach of parental time, as stated by the court. Document all violations to make your case strong.

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2. Gather all the Evidence

Listing the violations as per the orders issued in the divorce decree is useless until you have proof to show the court. For example, one may have substantial evidence of the other party’s violations of the divorce decree so, if your complaint is regarding the failure to provide child support money or spouse’s maintenance money. In this case, then you can show the financial bank records related to the transfer of funds. 

The documents are the main evidence to support the injured party’s case once court implementation happens. Therefore, be ready to back up all allegations of non-compliance with adequate documentation and confirmation of contempt.

3. Seek the help of Lawyers

It’s a legally binding process of law. Hence, if you are not in a situation of complying with the divorce decree terms, it’s better to look forward to taking the help of a professional local attorney or court as they can guide you with favorable advice as per your situation. There are various law firms that are working to provide this kind of service. The expert legal counselors will make sure to work diligently to conclude the optimal solution for your case. 

One of the best law firms in the United States is Berry K Tucker & Associates Ltd.  

4. File a motion of contempt of court

You can respond by filing a motion of contempt of court. The injured party can contact the court clerk for all the information regarding filling the documents. Court clerks help determine whether the ex-spouse files a motion for civil contempt of court, a motion for enforcement, or an alternate action.

The injured party can also file a motion for contempt to the court with the help of an attorney. The motion contains part of the violation mentioned in the divorce decree. However, it’s essential to have all the proofs to justify your statement. 

Once filing a motion of contempt of court is done, both parties are notified for a hearing, in which the judge gives one more chance to the guilty party to rectify the mistake by providing the stipulated time frame. Failure to do so again can lead to consequences like jail time etc.

See also  Advice For Fathers Going Through Divorce

What does a divorce decree look like?

Every country or state has its different forms and procedures for getting a divorce decree. That means the divorce decree will look somewhat different. 

The below-shared one is the divorce decree of California. It mainly contains address, email id, telephone number, and other personal information along with the final judgment.

How much does it cost to modify a divorce decree?

Once you have signed your divorce decree, making changes can be troublesome, regardless of any reason. The best way to change it very well might be to use an appeal, which can be a tedious, drawn-out measure that requires severe verification that your conditions meet specific criteria, subject to the state in which you live. Assuming, nonetheless, you feel that you signed the divorce decree under pressure or felt threatened if you didn’t sign, your lawyer might have the option to request the court for another hearing. 

If both parties agree to the modifications, “The Harris Firm Attorneys at Law” charges around $600 – $800 to complete all the paperwork. Additionally, the person has to pay the filing fee. The judge usually grants the modification if both parties agree with mutual consent. But things get a bit difficult if one of the parties does not agree to a modification. They further charge at least a $2,500 retainer to file it on your behalf. The most common types of modifications that take place are child support and spousal support. At the same time, modification in case of a dispute over property of division things gets a little messed up. 

To get more detailed information, you can get a free consultation here.


A divorce can take up to months or a long time to get settled. In a court trial, the judge assesses all proofs and declarations to conclude. However, issues like child support, property division, and child custody are considered while preparing the divorce decree. After settling the case, the judge announces the final judgment.

Always keep in mind that divorce takes place only when the court signs the decree. The divorce decree transfers to the lawyer only a few days after the ex-spouse receives the papers.