Updated on May 23, 2023
No divorce is finalized until there is a Final Decree of Divorce. Learning about what this entails can help you better understand the divorce process and may help the process go more smoothly. Work closely with a Killeen divorce attorney to create a Final Decree of Divorce that protects your rights and financial future.
Understanding the Terms of Your Divorce
Your Final Decree of Divorce will carefully address in considerable detail each term of your divorce:
Your child custody arrangements (called conservatorship in Texas)
The division of your marital property, which is often the most complicated term to resolve
Child support, as applicable
Alimony, called spousal maintenance in Texas
The goal is for you and your divorcing spouse to find a middle ground that you are both willing to accept on each of these terms that applies to your divorce.
Your Final Decree of Divorce
Your Final Decree of Divorce is a document that ends your marriage and effectively divides one household into two. Your decree will contain every divorce term and all the related specifics that you and your divorcing spouse have hammered out between you. Ultimately, your Final Decree of Divorce will include all of the following information that applies to your divorce:
Your and your spouse’s names
The case number
The date when your divorce becomes effective
How you will be dividing your marital property
Which properties will remain with you or with your soon-to-be ex
Where your kids are going to live (and according to what possession and access schedule)
Who will be paying child support
Whether or not one of you will receive alimony, and if so, in what amount and for what duration
Your Final Decree of Divorce spells out the terms and details of your divorce. The document will be created by either your divorce attorney or your spouse’s, signed by both of you, and filed with the court to be approved and finalized, marking the moment when you are officially divorced.
Your divorce decree ensures that if your ex fails to follow any of the terms therein, you can turn to the court for enforcement.
The Distinction between a Divorce Decree and a Divorce Certificate
Your divorce decree will be issued by the court and sent to your Killeen divorce attorney – who will provide you with your own official copy. You can also obtain a divorce certificate from the county clerk that can be used as legal proof of divorce for matters such as obtaining a passport (and other legal endeavors).
Your divorce certificate is an abbreviated version of your divorce decree and only includes basic divorce information such as the following:
Your and your ex’s names
The name of the judge in your case
The location and name of the court that granted your divorce
The Two Paths toward Your Final Decree of Divorce
You have options when it comes to creating your Final Decree of Divorce. Contact an experienced Killeen divorce attorney to determine which path your divorce is likely to take.
An uncontested divorce means that you and your divorcing spouse were able to resolve each of the applicable terms of divorce between yourselves – through whatever means necessary.
While there may be a term or two or two about which you and your soon-to-be-ex share similar views, others may require more in-depth negotiations. To begin, you will turn to your respective divorce attorneys to help guide the negotiations, and from here, you may turn to mediation.
If you, your spouse, and your divorce attorneys are unable to negotiate all the divorce terms between yourselves, you can proceed to meditation in an attempt to resolve the remaining terms. At mediation, a professional mediator, who is neutral on the matter, will help you explore your options and may help you bridge the divide between your stances on the terms at hand.
Mediation is only binding if you come to an agreement and sign off on it.
Agreed Divorce Decree
If you and your divorcing spouse – along with your respective divorce attorneys – can hammer out each of the terms that apply to your divorce, you will end up with a document that is called an agreed divorce decree.
From here, the judge handling your case will review your divorce settlement agreement and will incorporate the terms into your final divorce decree.
If, however, you have at least one term that remains undecided after going through the mediation process, you’ll need the court’s intervention on the matter. This is the second path forward toward your Final Decree of Divorce.
However, the more terms you can negotiate between yourselves, the better. Going to court is generally a more expensive endeavor and, because of the court’s crowded docket, a lengthier pursuit.
At court, your attorney will present evidence supporting your case while your divorcing spouse’s attorney does the same for your spouse. The judge in your case will listen carefully to both sides and will render rulings based on state law.
While it is generally preferable to settle divorce terms outside of court, there are instances in which court is unavoidable. A common example is if your spouse has taken it upon himself or herself to make your divorce as contentious as possible. If this is the case, speak with a divorce lawyer to determine your best path forward.
The Decree of Divorce
Once the court rules on the terms of your divorce that need resolving, either your attorney or your divorcing spouse’s attorney will prepare the Decree of Divorce for the court. Your decree will include the orders and ruling issued by the judge in your case, which will become legally binding with the judge’s signature.
Before The Judge Signs
Before sending your final decree of divorce to the judge for his or her signature, it’s important to review the document carefully. In the process, check for all the following issues:
Any changes in the language of the terms you resolved between yourselves
Any missing provisions
Any changes in monetary values or financial amounts
Any vague or confusing terms
Once every term is decided, either your attorney or your divorcing spouse’s attorney will draw up the Decree.
Your Divorce Decree
Once you receive your copy of your divorce decree, it is important to follow the orders contained therein and monitor your ex for compliance as well. Make sure you read your decree carefully and understand what is expected of you and your ex. If you have any doubts, questions, or concerns, discuss them with your knowledgeable Killeen divorce attorney.
If you have a valid reason for disagreeing with one or more of the judge’s final decisions, you may have the right to an appeal.
Appealing Your Divorce Decree
Your divorce attorney will advise you regarding your chances in terms of appealing your divorce decree. Common reasons that you may be granted an appeal include the following concerns:
A mistake in applying the law on the part of the judge
Inconsistencies in the divorce terms
Concealment of critical facts or information on the part of your ex
The exclusion of compelling evidence by your ex
The uncovering of new facts that are relevant to your case
If Your Ex Is Noncompliant
You worked hard to obtain a divorce decree that helps to protect you and your children’s rights, but if your ex refuses to comply, it puts you in a difficult position. Ignoring the issue will not do you any favors, which makes consulting with your divorce attorney about your best options paramount.
You will likely need to file a motion for enforcement in the court where you originally obtained your divorce. Once you have filed a motion for enforcement, the court can take legal actions to help ensure that your ex complies moving forward.
Reach Out to an Experienced Killeen Divorce Attorney Today
If you’re facing a divorce, Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a trusted divorce attorney who understands the challenges you face and who is fully committed to helping obtain a Final Decree of Divorce that works for you. For more information about how we can help, please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at (254) 781-4222.