Finalizing a Divorce

Locate a Local Family Lawyer

Find Lawyers in Other Categories
Most Common Family Law Issues:

How Do You Finalize a Divorce?

Most states will not automatically grant you a divorce once you file for one. There may be a mandatory waiting period between when a divorce is filed and when it is finalized. The purpose of this period is to encourage reconciliation between the two spouses.

If the divorce is uncontested, then this waiting period may be the only substantial hurdle between the initial filing and the finalization of the divorce. However, if there is a dispute between the parties on the outcome of the divorce, such as child support or division of property, then the divorce is contested. Any disputes in a contested divorce must be resolved through a trial, negotiation, or mediation, delaying the finalization of the divorce.

What Are the Main Steps in Finalizing a Divorce?

The main steps to take to finalize a divorce predominantly consist of:

  1. Make sure you qualify to file for a divorce in your state.
  2. Make sure all the required paperwork is filled out and filed with the appropriate court.
  3. Give your spouse legal notice that you are filing a divorce.
  4. Go through the waiting period that is required by your state.
  5. File the application for entry of default and send a copy to your spouse.
  6. If you have a minor, complete your parent education course if the court requires one. The completion certification must be filed with the court stating that you completed the course.
  7. Schedule a court date and take all the necessary paperwork with you to your hearing.
  8. Complete the decree of divorce document that puts the terms of your divorce in writing. Either spouse can prepare this document.

What Is the Waiting Period before a Divorce Is Finalized?

As mentioned above, a divorce may not be finalized in some states until the waiting period has been satisfied. Every state has its own length for the waiting period. Typically, if the couple files jointly for the divorce, the waiting period clock starts at the time of filing. If only one spouse files for divorce, the clock starts when the other party has been served and given notice of the divorce.

The length of the waiting period before a divorce is finalize varies from state to state:

What Is a Default Divorce?

A default divorce occurs when one spouse files for divorce, but the other spouse dies not respond to the divorce complaint or appear in court to contest it. If more than 31 days pass since the spouse was served with the divorce papers and given legal notice, the filing spouse may request a judgment of the divorce from the court by filing a petition to enter default. The judge will then make a ruling based on the divorce petition filed.

How Do I Know When My Divorce Is Finalized?

After you have filed for divorce, the next thing that you must do is to see whether the divorce has been finalized. You may find out whether your divorce has been finalized by doing the following things:

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Divorce?

The court process for obtaining a divorce can be very confusing, so it may be wise to consult with a divorce attorney to help explain your rights and to protect your interests. Moreover, a lawyer can help you negotiate a divorce decree and assign debt responsibilities to the appropriate spouse.

Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 09-17-2015 11:10 AM PDT

Find the Right Lawyer Now

Link to this page

Law Library Disclaimer

LegalMatch Service Mark