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Understanding a Divorce Decree

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Around 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. With half of the relationships collapsing this way, it is helpful to understand what goes into the final divorce decree at the dissolution of your marriage. Collins Family & Elder Law Group can explain what a divorce decree is, what is included in it, and whether it can be modified. Is it time you discovered what a final divorce decree would mean for the end of your marriage?

What Is a Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree is when a judge finalizes and approves the divorce and all the conditions by which it is surrounded. When the judge signs your divorce decree, the marriage is officially over and each party is officially free to move in their own direction.

What Is Included in a Divorce Decree?

You might be wondering what is included in a final divorce decree and Collins Family & Elder Law Group is here to help. There are different things that can be included in your divorce decree but they are usually broken down into three main categories: spousal support, child custody/parenting issues, and division of marital assets and debt.

Spousal Support

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is money paid to from one spouse to the other at the end of a marriage. Alimony is not awarded in every divorce due to state-specific rules that must be met. Additionally, if both partners have similar incomes, a judge may decide that spousal support is not necessary. Determining whether alimony is an option is important in finalizing the divorce decree.

Learn More About Spousal Support

Child Custody/Support

If there are children involved in the divorce, determining child custody and support can be extremely difficult. For a judge to sign the final divorce decree, parents must agree on child support and custody before the divorce is finalized. If an agreement cannot be reached between both parties, the judge can make a final ruling for a set period and move forward with signing the divorce decree.

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Division of Marital Assets

North and South Carolina are both equitable property states which means that any property or debt jointly gained during the marriage must be equally split between both spouses. Marital assets include real estate, vehicles, income, and collectibles, and these items must be distributed fairly in the event of a divorce. For a judge to sign the final divorce decree, you’ll need to ensure that everything is fairly divided between you and your ex-spouse.

Can a Divorce Decree be Modified?

While the final divorce decree is the official end of your marriage, it is still possible to file a motion for modification of court orders. You may be able to modify different parts of the divorce decree, including: 

  • Child support 
  • Child custody 
  • Visitation orders 
  • Spousal payments 

Keep in mind that unless specifically stated in the original divorce decree, property division cannot be modified once the divorce is final.

Getting a Copy of Your Divorce Decree

If you need to get — or replace — a copy of your divorce decree, your easiest option is to contact the court that handled your divorce in the first place. You’ll usually have to pay a fee and you may have to provide your certified divorce certificate before you can get a copy of your divorce decree.

Your Trusted Divorce Experts

For help navigating the divorce process in North or South Carolina, Collins Family & Elder Law Group is your trusted divorce experts. We’ll walk you through every stage of divorce to ensure that when you get to the final divorce decree, you understand exactly what is in it, how it finalizes the end of your marriage, and what to do if you need to make changes to the decree. Contact a member of our legal team to get started on your divorce process.

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