An Overview of 5 Major Issues in a Divorce Decree

Posted on: 24 May 2022

The court will give you a divorce decree after you finalize your divorce. The divorce decree is a formal order that signals your divorce proceeding's end and contains the details of the judgment. Below are the major issues your divorce decree may address.

1. Division of Property

The divorce decree specifies how you are to divide your marital property. States primarily use community property or equitable property laws to divide marital property. Community property states classify property that either or both of you acquired during marriage as marital property. You divide the marital property equally and keep your separate properties.

Equitable distribution states also classify property you acquired during the marriage as marital property and the rest as separate property. The main difference is that you divide the marital property equitably (fairly) and not necessarily equally.

2. Division of Debt

Divorce decrees treat debt division more or less like property division in that community property and equitable distribution laws apply to both. Thus, your divorce decree might require you to pay your partner's debts if they incurred those debts during the marriage. Note that the specific laws vary by state.

3. Child Custody and Visitation

Child custody and division are a critical part of a divorce decree for those who have children. Again, state laws rule, but all courts target resolutions in the children's best interests. The court will determine a child custody and visitation arrangement that works best for the children and not necessarily for the parents.

The law recognizes different types of child custody. For example, physical custody describes who lives with the child, while legal custody describes who makes crucial decisions that affect the child's welfare. The decree specifies the type of custody, the visitation hours or duration, and the exchange venues, among other specifics.

4. Child Support

Child support is the amount the noncustodial parent gives their custodial counterpart for the child's upkeep. Although the divorce decree doesn't specify how the custodial parent should spend the money. However, the expectation is that the custodial parent will use the money for, among other things:

  • Housing
  • Medication
  • School fees
  • Clothing
  • Food

The divorce decree will specify the dollar amount that the noncustodial parent must pay.

5. Alimony

Lastly, your divorce decree will specify the alimony (spousal support) that one spouse should pay the other. Note that state laws do not guarantee alimony. State laws and your circumstances determine whether your divorce decree contains the clause.  

Many states recognize different forms of alimony, such as:

  • Temporary alimony
  • Rehabilitative alimony
  • Reimbursement alimony
  • Long-term and short-term alimony

The decree will specify the alimony type, amount, start, and end dates. For more information, reach out to a local divorce attorney.