An Anatomy of a Divorce Decree; Part 1

If you are considering divorce, are in the process of going through a divorce, or, even, are divorced, at some point in time you’re going to encounter the Divorce Decree.

The Decree is the order that the Judge signs, at the end of your divorce, which grants your divorce. Every decree is different, but most are made up of similar sections. The purpose of this article is to give a very general overview of these sections to begin an understanding of what can be a very complex document.

First, the anatomy of your decree will depend on whether you have children or not. If a divorcing couple does not have children, their decree is usually much shorter and simpler and consists of the following:

Findings

The Court must make a number of findings in order to grant a divorce. Among other things, the Court has to have jurisdiction and it has to make a finding regarding why the divorce is being granted. In the vast majority of cases here in Denton, Texas, the divorce is granted as a “no fault divorce”.

In Texas, a no fault divorce is granted on the grounds of insupportability, which, despite the fancy language in the Texas Family Code, simply means that the reasons you got into the marriage are no longer there and there is no chance of reconciliation.

It is possible for the Court to find fault in a Texas divorce case – especially in cases involving family violence or adultery – but fault is something that has to be proven to the Court. Whether fault is found or not might make a difference in the property division in your divorce, so it is important to discuss these issues with your attorney before the divorce is ever filed with the Court.

Property Division

There isn’t near enough room here to go into what might be included in the property division portion of a divorce decree. Suffice it to say that nearly every decree will contain terms for the division of the divorcing couple’s community property. This section could be as simple as a few words finding that the parties do not have any community property, or that they have already divided their property, or it could be dozens of pages specifying exactly what property and/or debt is awarded to each spouse.

Obviously, this is an overly simplified breakdown of what you might find in a divorce decree in a case without children, but it at least gives you a start at understanding the document which finalizes the divorce process. In the next part to this article, I’ll give a general overview of what additional things would be included in a decree of divorce in a case with children.

If you have questions, feel free to explore our website.

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