What It Means to "Finalize" Divorce

Yes! Your divorce is final. But just wait one second, there are some final steps you need to take and understand.

Final Steps of Divorce

You’re finally free. But before you move forward, there are some things you need to look over and double check.

1. Read the divorce decree. Make sure you fully understand the judge’s final order and that there are no mistakes by reading the divorce decree thoroughly. Make a list of the things there are still left to do – such as court orderings. Also make note of the deadlines that accompany those orders. Be on the lookout for any mistakes such as typos and items that will be unenforceable because they are incorrect. An attorney can help get these corrected.

2. Do you need to modify the decree? This can be difficult, but not impossible. If the decree needs to be modified because you were under duress (forced or threatened during the agreement to something in the decree) you lawyer can file a motion for a new hearing. A judge will need to approve the changes you seek.

3. Appeal. If you think your original judge made a legal error during the divorce hearing you can request an appeal. During this appeal the original case goes before a higher court. You are not able to introduce new evidence in an appeal. One of two outcomes will occur:

  • If the court agrees a mistake was made, then the case can be remanded and sent back to the original court with specific instructions regarding the mistakes made.
  • If the court denies a mistake was made, then the original decree is affirmed and stands with no changes.

Following Divorce Orders

Once a divorce decree is finalized you need to obey all orders regarding child support and spousal support. This might also include paying loans and other bills. Make sure you do so in a timely manner to avoid having to return to court.

Source:, Wrapping Up Your Divorce, 2015

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