How Do I Know If My Divorce Is Final?
As we’ve said before, every divorce is different. Some divorces are short and fairly straightforward, while others are long, drawn-out processes. Whether you’ve been going through a divorce for a little or a long while, most people eventually start asking the question, “how do I know when my divorce is final?” The answer is actually quite simple – you’ll know your divorce is final when you receive a divorce decree from the court.
If you retain an attorney to guide you through your divorce, they will notify you when your divorce decree is issued and send along the appropriate documents. However, if you’re working through divorce on your own or simply want some clarity on the subject, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about divorce decrees in Maryland.
What is a divorce decree?
Sometimes called a final judgement or judgement of divorce, a Decree of Divorce is a legal document issued by the Circuit Court after a judge has reviewed and approved your divorce. A divorce decree contains information about division of property, child custody and visitation, and other important details about your post-divorce life.
In essence, it’s a legally binding summary of the final terms of your divorce.
When is a divorce decree issued?
A divorce decree is issued shortly after your final hearing. It is the final step of a divorce. The terms of your divorce must be fully settled and agreed upon by both parties before the Clerk of the Circuit Court will issue a divorce decree.
In simple divorces, the first hearing can be the final hearing. In more contentious situations, it may take a few hearings in front of the judge to come to an agreement.
Once issued, the original decree is sent to all parties or their attorneys (who will forward them once they receive them).
Delay tactics are usually employed in the lead-up to the final hearing. Once the final hearing is complete, it shouldn’t take too long to receive the divorce decree. If you’re concerned that the process isn’t happening like it should, consult with your attorney. If you don’t have an attorney helping you, you can contact the Circuit Court in the county in which divorce proceedings began to receive an update.
What should I do with my divorce decree?
Once you receive your divorce decree, it’s important to keep it in a safe place. It is an original paper document and can be incredibly helpful if your ex-spouse violates the terms of your divorce, or you have questions about the terms.
You will also need to keep your divorce decree and all other divorce-related paperwork for tax purposes, as divorce can impact your taxes.
If you move or change your name, update the address on file with the Circuit Court so they can send you any important documents.
What happens if I lose my divorce decree?
Although it’s not ideal, it is not the end of the world if you misplace your divorce decree. You can request a copy from the Circuit Court that granted the decree. Only the same Circuit Court can issue a new copy of the decree.
You will need to provide the court with some information including your name, your ex-spouse’s name, and the date of your divorce. There is a $25 fee for each certified copy of the decree.
If you have any questions about your divorce decree or the divorce process in general, we encourage you to reach out for a consultation. We can help ensure that your rights are protected and answer any questions you may have.