What Is a Final Judgment of Divorce?
By Wayne Thomas
Updated March 30, 2020
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The process of dissolving a marriage can involve multiple hearings and court orders. This can make it difficult to know exactly when you and your spouse are officially divorced. In most states, spouses are still considered married until a judge signs a final judgment of divorce and the court clerk enters it into the court record.
A judgment for divorce is considered final only if, in addition to severing the legal relationship between a couple, it disposes of all outstanding issues, including those related to property division, support and child custody. The judgment also sets forth the rights and responsibilities of each spouse after divorce, and contains a statement of the facts found by the court at trial or contained in the couple's written agreement. The finality of the judgment also gives either spouse the right to appeal the court's decision.
Certain aspects of your divorce may be resolved by separate judgments. This might be the case where you or your spouse are eager to remarry but have complex financial or property matters that will take several months to resolve. Here, a judge may choose to first issue an order declaring you legally divorced, and then issue a separate order for property at a later date. In this scenario, while your divorce is not officially over, you would no longer be considered legally married.
Wayne Thomas earned his J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2008. He has experience writing about environmental topics, music and health, as well as legal issues. Since 2011, Thomas has also served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."