Divorce is a term used to describe the legal procedure that dissolves marriage between two legally married people. Once a divorce is finalized, each party will have sole possession of the assets granted to them in the divorce and may then choose to remarry if they wish to do so. The term used to identify the final ruling from a court in a divorce suit is a divorce decree.
The purpose of a signed divorce decree is to make the termination of the marriage official. Typically, a divorce decree will need to be signed by both spouses, the judge, and each spouse’s attorney if they retained an attorney to assist them in the divorce.
It is important to note that no divorce decree will be identical, as each divorce decree will be based upon the unique facts and circumstances of the parties. A divorce decree’s general purpose is to outline each party’s rights and duties and provide instructions regarding child custody, child support, and the division of marital property.
What Does a Divorce Decree Contain?
A divorce decree will always contain basic information regarding the case, including:
- The correct legal names of all of the parties, including children’s names if applicable;
- The effective date of the divorce decree, i.e., the date on which the judge signed the order; and
- The case number for the divorce case.
All of the above information can be helpful when locating records of the divorce in the future if the decree is needed. Divorce records are generally kept by the local county records office or the records office for the court in which the judge signed the divorce judgment.
A divorce record also provides evidence that the two people were married and that they have legally and officially terminated that marriage as of the date of the signed order. In many places, a divorce record or decree may also be referred to as a marriage dissolution certificate. The exact name may depend on local terms or jurisdictional rules.
In most cases, divorce decrees and records are also official state documents. This means that divorce records can be accessed from the recording department and certified by that department for a fee. Divorce records may also be indexed if a certain amount of time has passed. This means that records of the divorce and the documents of the divorce case may be accessed through various websites or organizations.
However, many records involved during a divorce proceeding may be sealed by court order or marked as confidential to protect the personal information of the parties involved in the divorce proceedings. This is especially true if there were children involved in the divorce case.
What Are the Different Types of Divorce?
As mentioned above, divorce is the legal process that dissolves a marriage. However, there are different types of divorce that an individual may choose to file: fault-based divorce and no-fault-based divorce.
By filing a fault-based divorce, the spouse seeking the divorce begins the divorce suit by filing an initial complaint alleging the other party is to blame for the dissolution of the marriage. Common types of reasons to file a fault-based divorce include:
- Cheating, also known as infidelity;
- Cruelty and abuse;
- Financial ruin; and
After the petitioning spouse files the original petition or complaint, the opposing spouse will then have the opportunity to file an answer to the complaint. Both parties will then litigate the fault issue in court to determine if either party breached the marital contract.
Filing a fault-based divorce is important because it allows the judge to award an unfair distribution of marital assets to the non-breaching party or grant other emergency relief. Typically, a judge will seek to separate the marital assets in a just and fair way, which is usually a 50/50 split.
In contrast to a fault-based divorce, a no-fault divorce is a divorce that allows spouses to agree together to dissolve a marriage. In a no-fault-based divorce, no single party is blamed for breaching the marital contract.
Typically, when filing a no-fault-based divorce, the filing party will cite that the marriage is due to irreconcilable differences. Once again, a no-fault-based divorce does not require the filing spouse to prove wrongdoing by the other spouse or provide the court evidence that the responding party has breached the marital contract. Instead, both parties to the divorce suit will agree that they both wish to get divorced.
What States Allow No-Fault Divorces?
As of 2010, when New York began allowing no-fault divorces, every state in the United States allows divorce based on no-fault. Although every state recognizes no-fault divorces, there are various rules regarding filing a no-fault-based divorce that will differ by state.
For example, some states require a physical separation for a set period before a spouse can seek a divorce. Additionally, many states require a waiting period from when the divorce suit is initiated before the divorce may be granted. Contact a lawyer if you have questions regarding the laws in your states that address no-fault divorce issues.
How Is the Divorce Process Started?
The first step is to file a divorce petition (also known as a complaint depending on your jurisdiction) in the court in which you reside. It is important to note that a divorce petition may typically only be filed in the court located in the jurisdiction in which an individual resides.
For example, if an individual was married on a trip to Las Vegas but lives in a small town in Texas, they would file the divorce petition in their home county located in Texas. Then the court would recognize the marriage in Las Vegas and allow the party to continue their suit to dissolve the marriage that occurred in Las Vegas.
If one of the parties has left the residence and established a domicile in another location or state, they may also be able to initiate divorce proceedings by filing a divorce petition in their new domicile. Typically, it takes a certain time before an individual will be deemed a domicile of their new location and allowed to initiate a divorce petition in that new location.
Do I Need an Attorney for Help With a No-Fault Divorce?
Although a no-fault divorce may seem straightforward as it does not require the filing party to prove a breach of the marital contract, many issues are still involved in a typical divorce proceeding.
As such, if you are considering getting a divorce or have been served with divorce paperwork filed by your spouse, it is important to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer in your area immediately. It is necessary to consult with an experienced attorney if children are involved in the divorce.
An experienced family law attorney will be able to help you determine your best course of legal action regarding the divorce and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the divorce proceedings.
An attorney can also provide you with any updates or information if there are changes to divorce laws that might affect your rights or the outcome of your case. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent you at any temporary order hearings and the final hearing.