What Does a Divorce Decree Look Like in California?

Here is what divorce decrees look like and the subjects they cover

What Does a Divorce Decree Look Like?

A divorce decree is a legal document entered by a court to finalize a divorce

Divorce decrees include many items. The big ones are the following:

  1. The names of the parties involved in the divorce
  2. Whether the decree was a result of a contested divorce or uncontested matter
  3. When the court acquired jurisdiction (power) over the parties
  4. The date of the divorce (ending the status of the marriage)
  5. Child custody and parenting time terms
  6. Child support
  7. Spousal support
  8. Division of assets and debts
  9. Attorney's fees

There is more to a divorce decree than the above.

Here is California's form FL-180 so you can see what a divorce decree actually looks like.

Take a look at the boxes and you will see what a divorce decree typically covers as well as the attachments that typically go with it.

Here is California's form FL-190 that also accompanies the divorce decree so you can see what that looks like. This is the form that confirms the court's "entry" of the divorce.

FL-190 form
FL-190 form

These are not the only forms but hopefully this gives you a good idea of what the main documents are.

The divorce decree is signed by a judge and is legally binding on both parties.

What does a divorce decree say about child custody?

If there are children, there should be child custody terms in the divorce decree. This will specify legal custody, physical custody and parenting time, and more.

What does a divorce decree say about child support?

A divorce decree will include child support terms if the parties have children.

The exception is if the child support issue is with the Department of Child Support Services, in which case the child support issue may be in a separate document and outside the divorce decree.

Child support is a payment made by one parent to the other to help cover the costs of raising the children. Child support is supposed to ensure the children continue receiving the financial support they need after the divorce.

The child support ordered in a divorce will depend on several factors, including but not limited to the income of both parents, the number of children, and the custody arrangement.

California has its own "guideline" factors. The court will use these guidelines to determine the appropriate child support.

The divorce decree will specify the child support to be paid and the payment schedule. There are also standard provisions that California law requires the divorce decree to include. These include but are not limited to specific mandatory child support add-ons.

What does a divorce decree say about dividing assets?

A divorce decree includes a division of assets and debts.

The divorce decree states which assets and debts will be assigned to each spouse. This may include real property, jewelry, furniture and furnishings, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, dividing a business, insurance policies (depending on the type of insurance policy), and retirement accounts, to name a few.

There are obviously more than this, depending on the case.

It may also include debts such as mortgages, credit card balances, loans and other debts, obligations or liabilities.

What does a divorce decree say about spousal support?

A divorce decree usually includes spousal support terms. Spousal support is also known as alimony.

Spousal support is a payment made by one spouse to the other spouse to financially help the other spouse after the divorce.

Spousal support helps the spouse receiving it to maintain a standard of living like what they had during the marriage. It reality, that often does not happen because two households are more expensive than one and it may not be practical to maintain that standard of living.

The amount of spousal support and duration of spousal support depend on several factors written in Family Code 4320. There is however more to spousal support than this section, although this section covers nearly everything the court considers important.

If the court orders spousal support, the divorce decree will specify the payments, the schedule for payments, and any other terms or conditions of the support.

What does a divorce decree say about attorney's fees, costs and expenses?

Spouses may agree on what they want regarding attorney's fees. This may be each spouse paying their own attorney's fees or one spouse making a contribution toward the other spouse's fees. If they cannot agree, then the court makes that decision. Either way, the divorce decree covers the issue of attorney's fees, costs and expenses.

Are there "standard" terms in divorce decrees?

Yes, many divorce judgments include standard terms but it is important to understand that just because a term is "standard" does not mean it applies to every situation.

Standard terms may need modification depending on the facts.

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