Getting a Divorce

A divorce decree, also commonly referred to as either a final judgment of divorce or a decree of dissolution, is the court’s final divorce order. A divorce decree’s effect is to finalize the divorce process for the spouses and declare that the spouses are no longer married. The actual legal effect of a divorce decree is difficult to explain succinctly, however, both because every divorce is different and because a divorce has many different consequences. This article seeks to better explain how divorce decrees function and what effects they have.

As divorce rates continue to remain relatively high across the country, many often wonder why so many couples get divorced. While it may seem strange to use divorce to escape a lifelong commitment, spouses seek divorces for many different reasons. Certainly, not all spouses get divorced simply because they no longer love each other. Many of the most common reasons for divorce are often relationship-related problems or long-term deficiencies in the marriage. While the specifics of each divorce are unique, many spouses often seek divorce for a similar set of reasons.

Most people have heard of both annulment and divorce, and many associate both terms with the end of a marital relationship. However, few can actually identify the legal difference between an annulment and a divorce (spoiler alert: there is a big difference between the two). While annulment and divorce are similar concepts, they have very different meanings and legal effects on the marital relationship.

Most people have likely heard that divorce rates across the United States are rising, but are married couples actually splitting up at higher rates? And if divorce rates are rising, how much are they rising? These are important questions for public policy and our conception of marriage as an idea. If people divorce more readily, that could signify a decline in the overall importance or marriage or a normalization of the notion that certain people make mistakes in committing for life.

Why Tracking Rates of Marriage and Divorce Matters

There is little one can do to prevent the stress of parting with a partner, especially if you're not the one who initiated a divorce. However, there are ways that can help make the legal process painless and quick, thereby reducing the stress. You can opt for an 'uncontested divorce' and limit the role of lawyers. Simply being on the same page as your soon-to-be-ex-spouse and not using lawyers for a proxy fight will make the divorce process much easier.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

The reality is that good divorce lawyers are a dime a dozen. Picking a good lawyer is generally not hard, as most (not all) divorce lawyers are competent and know what they are doing. That said, however, not every divorce lawyer will be right for every case. While a particular divorce lawyer may generally be good and have a strong reputation, that lawyer may not always be a good choice for your case.

Many spouses contemplating divorce are rightfully concerned about the costs of legal fees. The dread associated with paying legal fees is entirely justified when recent news articles spit out headlines claiming that some lawyers charge upwards of $1,500 for an hour of work.1 Reality does not support the idea that lawyers cost too much money to be truly valuable; however, as the headlines do not explain the whole story.

People tell horror stories about divorce lawsuits that go on for years and years on end. Those incredibly lengthy marathon divorce proceedings are in the minority; however, and most divorces proceed through the court system much more quickly. In general, the average divorce lawsuit process takes anywhere from one month to a just short of a year.

In almost all cases, seeking a divorce is a mentally and emotionally devastating process. Very rarely does a divorcing spouse move through the process without some type of emotional reckoning or breakdown. Often, the divorce process is associated with anxiety, depression, and severe emotional trauma resulting from both the divorce itself and the courtroom process.

Unfortunately, the common lawyer answer to this question will apply: “Well, it depends”. Spouses seeking a divorce can, in theory, completely eliminate lawyers from the process. It is possible to find enough information both online and from the courthouse to muddle one’s way through the divorce filing and litigation process.


Subscribe to Getting a Divorce