A divorce decree is the final chapter in a dissolution of marriage. The decree terminates the marriage, establishes a husband's and wife's obligations to one another and to their children and disposes of their property and debts. You may be able to obtain a sample of a final divorce decree from the website of the Virginia county courthouse where your divorce was filed. In an uncontested divorce, where the husband and wife have signed a settlement agreement, the final divorce decree is concise and straightforward.
The case caption goes at the top of the first page of the final divorce decree. The caption includes the name of the court where the divorce was filed, e.g. the Circuit Court for Arlington County. It includes the full legal name of each party and states whether the party is the plaintiff or defendant in the divorce case. The case number is also part of the case caption. The caption proves this is the final divorce decree for you and your spouse and helps ensure the final divorce decree will be filed in your divorce file not someone else's file.
An uncontested divorce decree also includes several statements of fact to satisfy Virginia divorce law. For example, the final order of divorce states the plaintiff served the defendant properly with divorce papers, the plaintiff testified at a hearing and the case is ready for a judge to enter the final divorce decree. The decree specifies other case-specific information such as the fact that both parties are adults, when and where the parties got married, and the names and ages of any children who were born during the marriage. The decree states the parties have been separated for more than six months, there is no hope of reconciliation and they have signed a property settlement agreement.
Order Incorporating Agreement
After making the factual statements required by law, a Virginia divorce decree affirms and ratifies the settlement agreement between the parties and incorporates the agreement into the decree. The incorporation of the agreement into the final order means the Virginia courts can enforce the settlement agreement as if it were an order issued by a judge. A copy of the settlement agreement is filed with the final divorce decree.
If one party has agreed to pay spousal support to the other, supplemental information must be added to the divorce decree. The additional provisions include names, addresses and each party's of birth, name and address of each party's employer, and amount and duration of the spousal support agreement. Each party's personal information, such as Social Security number and driver's license number, is listed in a privacy addendum that is not publicly accessible.
Uncontested Fault-Based Divorce
Another example of an uncontested Virginia final divorce decree is a divorce decree based on fault grounds. According to a Fairfax County family law expert, less than five percent of divorces in Virginia are granted on fault-based grounds. A spouse has grounds for a fault-based divorce if the at-fault spouse is convicted of a felony and sentenced to serve time in the penitentiary. Adultery, desertion and cruelty are also grounds for divorce in Virginia. A fault-based, uncontested divorce decree would include a finding of fact by the judge that fault existed.