What Is a Temporary Divorce Certificate?

By Brenna Davis

Some courts issue temporary divorce certificates -- which may be referred to as legal separation certificates -- when a couple has petitioned for divorce or legal separation but the divorce has not yet been finalized. You can use this certificate to prove that divorce proceedings have been initiated and may help provide documentation when changing your name, changing the name on bills or responding to debt collectors looking for your spouse. A temporary divorce certificate is not the same thing as a final divorce decree.

Some courts issue temporary divorce certificates -- which may be referred to as legal separation certificates -- when a couple has petitioned for divorce or legal separation but the divorce has not yet been finalized. You can use this certificate to prove that divorce proceedings have been initiated and may help provide documentation when changing your name, changing the name on bills or responding to debt collectors looking for your spouse. A temporary divorce certificate is not the same thing as a final divorce decree.

How to Obtain

You may obtain a temporary divorce certificate only by petitioning the court in the county in which you reside for a divorce or legal separation. If you need proof that your divorce is pending, ask the clerk to provide you with a temporary certificate. If you and your spouse agree to temporary terms of your legal separation before the court finalizes your divorce, the clerk may also issue a signed order itemizing the terms of your separation.

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Uses

A temporary divorce certificate will not permit you to remarry. It can, however, be used as documentation to help change your name, to have your ex's name removed from some bills. A temporary divorce certificate is not a legally binding divorce, and only serves as notice that a divorce is pending.

Temporary Orders

Couples often enter into temporary settlement agreements while their divorce is pending, particularly if they have children. These agreements may be agreed to jointly or arise out of court-ordered mediation. Judges may also issue temporary orders addressing spousal support and child custody while a divorce is pending. You may need to provide a copy of a temporary order or settlement agreement along with your temporary divorce certificate. For example, if your ex was ordered to take over credit card debt, you will need to show this documentation to your credit card company.

Final Divorce Decree

The court issues a final divorce decree after all matters in your divorce have been resolved, either through settlement negotiations or judicial order. Until the final order is filed, a clerk may issue a temporary certificate indicating that your divorce is final. This certificate fills many of the same needs as a temporary divorce or separation certificate, but serves as proof that you are divorced. After your divorce is final, you may remarry.

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Legal Procedures for Divorces

References

Related articles

North Carolina Law for Marriage Separation

Divorcing in North Carolina can be very easy or very confusing, but the confusion arises mostly if you try to compare this state's laws with others. If you need the court to resolve certain issues -- such as property division -- you must specifically request this before divorcing. After the divorce is granted, the court will address these other issues as needed. When separation is your grounds for divorce, you must only live separate and apart for 366 days.

Separation Laws in Virginia

Separation is Virginia's version of a no-fault divorce, but the state is not very strict about its requirements. Other than the duration of your separation, Virginia imposes few rules for its terms. You don't have to file anything with the court to begin the separation period, and a written agreement between you and your spouse is optional.

What Does Legal Separation Involve?

Legal separation can be difficult to understand because the same process isn't recognized in all states. In some jurisdictions, you must simply sign an agreement with your spouse to become officially separated. In others, you must involve the court. Universally, however, a legal separation defines the terms of living apart. The differences lie in how you achieve this.

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