Divorce Decree vs. Divorce Certificate: Are They Different?

A divorce decree provides all the details of how your marital debts and assets are distributed, matters relating to child support and custody, and anything else relevant to your divorce. A certificate simply provides proof that your divorce is final.

Let’s take a closer look.

What is a divorce decree?

A divorce decree is also referred to as a divorce judgment or a final judgment. Is a court document that outlines the terms and conditions of your divorce. It is usually issued by the court after all legal proceedings have been completed and all parties involved in the divorce case have reached an agreement. 

The details outlined in a divorce decree vary from case to case but typically contain information such as the following:

  1.  Asset, debt, or property division between ex-spouses
  2.  Custody arrangements for children involved in the marriage
  3.  Child support payments and alimony or spousal support obligations (if applicable)
  4.  Restraining orders, if necessary
  5.  Specific provisions regarding tax filing status, life insurance policies, and similar issues
  6.  Instructions on how marital assets are to be divided or liquidated
  7.  Information regarding visitation rights (for parents who do not have custody of their children)
  8.  Details of any prenuptial agreements (if applicable)
  9.  Any name changes made by either party

Read: How to Talk to Your Ex about Spousal and Child Support

What purpose does it serve?

A divorce decree serves as the official termination of marriage with your former spouse. As such, it is important to make sure it accurately reflects all agreements made during your divorce proceedings. You'll probably need several copies of your divorce decree to change your name, bank account information, and identification.

Obtaining a copy

If you want one or more copies of your divorce decree, start in the county where you filed the divorce. You can usually obtain copies from the court clerk's office there. When requesting a copy of your divorce decree, you will typically need to provide basic information, such as both parties' names and the date of filing. 

Once you have provided this information, the court clerk should be able to find and provide a copy of the document to you. For a certified copy, expect to pay about a dollar each.

What is a divorce certificate?

This legal document serves as proof that a marriage has been dissolved. It typically contains details such as the parties’ names, date of marriage, date of separation, and date of divorce. 

A certificate of divorce is usually issued by the court once the divorce decree has been issued, although it can sometimes be requested from the presiding court after all proceedings have been finalized.

What purpose(s) does it serve?

A divorce certificate is a simplified version of a divorce decree. It provides evidence that your marriage has legally ended without giving all the details of who gets what – something not relevant when you open a new bank account, for example.

Obtaining a copy

Getting a copy of a divorce certificate is similar to getting copies of a divorce decree. You'll need to request it from the county clerk's office and will need to pay a fee for any certified copies.



Divorce Content Specialist & Lawyer
Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Legal Insights

Bryan is a non-practicing lawyer, HR consultant, and legal content writer. With nearly 20 years of experience in the legal field, he has a deep understanding of family and employment laws. His goal is to provide readers with clear and accessible information about the law, and to help people succeed by providing them with the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the legal landscape. Bryan lives in Orlando, Florida.