Understanding the Final Divorce Order

At the end of your divorce, you will receive the final divorce order, also known as a dissolution decree. This document is very important but it can be tough to understand, particularly when you are dealing with the stress that naturally comes along with ending a relationship. As the entire divorce process plays out, you and your spouse will spend a lot of time in negotiation and potentially in and out of the courtroom. The entire time, the topic of discussion will be the key aspects of your divorce. 

During this period, chances are you will no longer be living together. You will have started to arrange you life without your spouse and learn how to parent your children, if you have any, across two households and divide other responsibilities. For all intents and purposes, you may feel as if the divorce has already happened. However, it’s not until the final divorce decree has been granted by the court that your marriage is officially ended under New Mexico law.

The Dissolution Decree

A final divorce order–also referred to as a dissolution of marriage order or final decree of divorce–is the document the court issues that will legally end your marriage. Once the judge in your case has signed this decree, you are divorced in a legal sense. The decree is generally issued after your divorce trial has ended or after you and your spouse have worked out a settlement and the court has approved what you decided. This decree details all the rules you and your spouse have to follow to uphold whatever arrangements you agreed on during the divorce process or what the court ruled if you had to go to trial to obtain your divorce.

What Does the Decree Contain?

The decree itself is a written document that has all the divorce agreements, decisions and terms outlined in detail. These settlements and agreements are part of the document so each spouse is clear on what their duties and obligations are now that the marriage has ended. While the rules in a decree will vary depending on the circumstances in a case, a decree can detail aspects such as how property is being divided, how much child support will be paid, child custody arrangements, and any spousal support arrangements. 

In many cases, property division is a large part of a divorce decree. The document may have detailed instructions on how all assets and property are going to be divided based on previous decisions. The court can also leave instructions that specify when everything is going to be divided, with a strict timeline or an overall deadline spelled out. How your property division is handled in your decree will depend on what divorce method you and your spouse used and whatever was agreed upon as you went through the divorce proceedings. 

Decrees Can Be Modified

Even though it is your “final” divorce order, you may be able to have parts of a decree modified when circumstances in your life have changed significantly. If, for example, one spouse loses his or her job, the amount of child support ordered in the decree may need to be adjusted. You do need to demonstrate to the court exactly why your decree needs to changed, so speak to an attorney if yours needs to be altered.

When you are going through a divorce, it’s important to know what you should expect at the end of it. Reviewing your final divorce decree can be confusing and sometimes difficult, so be sure to work with an experienced family law attorney who can give you the hands-on support and guidance you may need.