Finalizing the divorce is one of the things that couples going through the procedure look forward to getting done. They can’t wait to receive their divorce decrees confirming that their marriages are over and that they can live their separate lives from now on. But what to do if you seem to be waiting for your divorce confirmation document for too long? How to act if you’ve lost it or just need a copy of the divorce decree for certain needs? In this post, you’ll find out the ways to resolve these situations.
When can a couple obtain a copy of the divorce decree?
Once the date of the final hearing in the court is known, both ex-wife and ex-husband have to appear there to get their divorce decree. By the end of the appointment, it will be handed to them by a judge as a confirmation of their marriage being dissolved. It will be given in two identical documents that you and your ex will own from this moment. Please note that you’ll receive them right after your divorce is entered into the court system of your state (or county, for my UK readers.) For this reason, it is worth taking a close look at state divorce laws, for example. If your divorce proceedings are still ongoing and there are negotiations about the custody of kid/s, you may want to have an experienced custody lawyer on your side to advocate for your interests.
Why should you keep it safe?
The reason why you have to keep your divorce decree safe is the information contained in it. This is not just a piece of paper that states that you and your ex-spouse aren’t together anymore. It also outlines the custody terms, alimony amounts, property division, child support, and other points that arise as a result of your marriage being dissolved. Therefore, storing the divorce decree among your most important papers is necessary, especially if you have kids under 18 or a lot of property or real estate to split. We suggest that you scan or copy your divorce decree to have it in a few examples that can be used for your needs.
How to get a copy of the divorce decree if you’ve lost it?
Let’s say you’ve filed for the divorce, went through the next divorce stages legally with help of your family law attorney or divorce lawyer, received your decree of divorce on the appointed day, and then lost it. What can you do now?
First of all, you can turn to the court where you got divorced for a copy of your decree. You can do it in person or, if applicable in your state, use an online search tool created to find documents issued by the local court. The second option is convenient for everyone and allows you to get your document copy fast, but it may not be available in every county and state of the US.
Second, you can turn to the clerk’s office for the certified duplicate of your divorce decree. The clerk’s offices work on behalf of local courts so you can be sure that you’ll be given an authentic copy. Keep in mind that some fees may apply for this divorce decree duplicate.
Third, the department of vital records functioning in every state allows you to get a copy of the following documents without any trouble:
- birth certificates;
- marriage certificates;
- divorce decrees;
- death certificates.
Remember about the waiting period that may apply to request a duplicate of a divorce decree: some states allow their residents to get a divorce decree copy 30 days after it was issued for the first time. Therefore, you’ll have to wait this period even if you lose your document right after the divorce.
Where else can you get a divorce decree from?
Another way to get a copy of your divorce certificate is by requesting it from your lawyer. It applies to every case that was conducted with their help: all lawyers have to store their clients’ papers for at least five years after the case took place. If you lose a divorce document during this time, you may get a copy from your lawyer easily and even possibly for free. But if this time passes, you’re not likely to get assistance from your attorney, so consider using any of the ways mentioned in the previous paragraph.
As you can see, several ways allow you to get your divorce decree duplicate fast. Some of them may require expenditures, others are free of charge, yet losing the authentic decree of divorce isn’t a tragedy. Therefore, we suggest that you don’t worry about that but follow our tips once you’ve noticed this paper is missing. This document recovery won’t leave you bankrupt, so don’t hesitate to go and get the duplicate.
Last Updated on June 25, 2023 by Lucy Clarke