Finalizing a divorce means that the judge signs the divorce decree ending the marriage. The route to this point may vary depending upon whether or not the divorce is contested or uncontested, but at some point, sometimes after a short hearing, the court is ready to move.
To get to that point, the filing party should be sure he or she has all the appropriate paperwork with the court. All the copies should be stamped and, if necessary, notarized affirming the dates a party submitted each document.
In an uncontested action, the filing spouse can then make an application for entry of default and mail a copy to the defaulting spouse. Normally, all mailed paperwork must be notarized and all mail should be sent certified mail with signature required and a return receipt.
Some jurisdictions require a parent with minor children to complete a parent education course. The court may require proof of completion of this course.
These steps may not be applicable in all states and some states may have additional requirements. Applying for an entry of default does not guarantee that the finalization of the divorce. Most states have waiting periods between the filing and the finalization of a divorce. Here are a few:
> New York
: a 30-day waiting period that begins when respondent spouse is officially served divorce papers.
> Texas: a 60-day waiting period that begins as soon as the divorce is filed.
> Florida: a 20-day waiting period that begins as soon as the divorce is filed, but can change if the Court decides that a waiting period is unjust.
> Illinois: Both parties must first show that they have been living “separate and apart” for an uninterrupted period that exceeds 2 years. “Separate and apart” does not always require the couple to have lived in separate housing. In the case of a no-fault action, that period of can be reduced to 6 months when parties waive the 2-year requirement in writing.
> California: a 6-month waiting period that begins when respondent spouse is officially served with divorce papers.
In some jurisdictions, the filing party the must schedule a hearing date. All appropriate paperwork should be taken to the hearing, which is normally very brief. Included in the paperwork is the decree of dissolution of marriage and the domestic default cover sheet, along with the child support order, order of assignment and fact sheet if necessary.
In some cases, the judge signs the decree after the hearing.