Likely, most people going through the divorce process anticipate the day their divorce becomes final, indicated by a formal court document called a divorce decree. After all, often, divorce is a lengthy process involving many meetings, much negotiation and a great deal of time and resources, and all of that tends to leave those involved depleted mentally and emotionally. When the final decree of divorce is granted, divorcing spouses know, legally speaking, their marriage has ended. Maryland couples approaching divorce may wonder what exactly is involved in a final decree of divorce.
Divorce decree covers important issues
A final decree of divorce is the final court document in a divorce: the court’s formal order granting a termination of a marriage, often called a final judgment or judgment of divorce. (Maryland residents may obtain an absolute divorce decree, fully terminating their marriage, or a limited divorce decree, stipulating many important issues, but not permanently ending the marriage.) Typically, divorce decrees cover issues such as alimony, child support, child custody, visitation and division of property and/or debt. Both spouses must sign the document, and a judge must provide a final seal of approval.
Final check before signing is important
Before signing, divorcing spouses should carefully check their final decree of divorce for accuracy and content, ensuring it contains language and contingencies that will protect their legal interests. They are wise to check for vague language — “liberal and reasonable” when referring to visitation and custody may create problems with a difficult ex, for example — as well as any missing pertinent details, including specific monetary amounts and values. Once the decree has been signed, they may be able to modify it only via an appeal, which can be a long and involved process.
Once this final step in the divorce process has ended, typically, divorced spouses will receive a copy of the final decree, and a copy can also be obtained from the vital records office of the courthouse in the county in which the divorce was finalized. Maryland couples planning to divorce often turn to an experienced family law attorney. He or she can provide valuable assistance in navigating all steps in the divorce process.