A divorce is the last thing that couples can expect. When it happens and the court gives the final divorce decree, can it be reversed? Read on to learn more.
How much do you know about the final divorce decree?
Divorce is a learning experience for anyone who has to go through it. This can leave many people with unanswered questions. One question many people have is whether the final divorce decree can be reversed by the court.
What is a Final Divorce Decree?
If you go through a divorce, you already know that it can be a long and complicated process.
The final divorce decree is the last step in this process. In the final decree, there will be vital information regarding the court’s decision.
A divorce certificate is different from a divorce decree. A divorce certificate exists for the purpose of record-keeping and is issued by the state. A divorce decree, on the other hand, is an enforceable court order that both parties must follow.
When the Final Divorce Decree is Given
Divorce cases can take a long time. This final decision is often a relief for the parties involved.
The final decree is given after the divorce trial or after a settlement is agreed upon and submitted to the court.
This looks different depending on whether there was a trial or a settlement.
In the case of a trial, the judge considers testimony given and evidence presented. The judge decides things like child support and custody, property division, and alimony.
In the divorce decree, those decisions are finalized. This is a legally binding court order that covers what the relationship between the ex-spouses looks like moving forward.
In a settlement, the written settlement is sent to the court. It can also be spoken aloud to the courtroom record.
The judge reviews the agreement to decide if it’s fair and legal. If it is, the court issues a decree that covers the terms. This decree is a legally binding court order on both parties.
When a Divorce Becomes Final
The divorce is not final until the day the decree is signed by the court. Most of the time, you receive the decree shortly after it’s signed. It’s first mailed to your attorney and forwarded to you from there.
The divorce is legal and final when the decree is signed. Only then is the marriage legally terminated.
Can Divorce Decrees be Undone?
There are some cases in which a final divorce decree can be reversed, but this depends on the specifics.
Most of the time, the final divorce decree is just that: final. Typically, one or both parties want the divorce to stay final, so it wouldn’t be fair if the divorce could easily be undone.
However, there are occasional reasons why someone might want to reverse the final decision.
Reasons to Reverse a Decree
The reasons people may want to change the final decree include reconciliation, in which both individuals decide they don’t want the divorce after all.
More often, one or both of the parties want the decision reversed because they decide they don’t like the trial judgment. Or one person may decide the settlement terms aren’t fair.
When a Divorce Decree Reversal Can Work
Many times, getting a final divorce decree reversed isn’t possible, even if both parties want it to happen.
In New Hampshire, a couple decided they had changed their minds about the divorce. Thomas McCarron and Terrie Harmon were married 24 years before getting a divorce. When they decided to resume the marriage, they asked the court to reverse the decree. But the court ruled a reversal wasn’t possible.
In some states a final divorce decree can be reversed so long as both parties request it and are within the correct time frame. Those states include Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi and Nebraska. Other states, like New Hampshire where McCarron and Harmon lived, say they have no authority to undo divorce decrees.
But even in states like New Hampshire, there are exceptions. The reasons to reverse a divorce decree include mistake, misfortune, accident or fraud. A couple who simply want to undo the decree doesn’t fall under those categories.
Divorce Decree Modifications
The chances to make modifications to the final decree are greater than getting it reversed altogether. Again, the circumstances have to be right.
Some things are always final, like property division. But other things, like decisions related to children, can often be modified.
In divorce settlements, couples sometimes leave certain things open to future modification. Health insurance and spousal or child support are reasons for later modifications if circumstances change.
A modification can be submitted to the court in writing. If it’s unclear whether both parties agree to the modification, a hearing may be held.
The modification agreement must also be signed by a judge. After that, it becomes a legally binding court order that both parties must follow.
Need to Reverse a Final Divorce Decree?
Do you hope to reverse or modify a divorce decree?
These situations can be legally complicated and emotionally challenging. You’ll have an easier and more successful case if you have an experienced lawyer on your side.
No matter what stage you’re at in the divorce process, contact us to find out how we can help.