What Is a Correct Date of Divorce: the Date of Filing or Date of Judgment of the Divorce?

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

What Is a Correct Date of Divorce: the Date of Filing or Date of Judgment of the Divorce?

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

After a divorce, you may need to provide the date of divorce. There are several dates associated with your divorce, including the date of filing and the judgment date. Generally, the judgment date, which is the date the court ruled on and issued the divorce, is the date of your divorce. However, there are other circumstances where you may need to provide the date either you or your former spouse filed for divorce.

Frustrated woman turned away from a man on a couch

Separation Date Used for Key Decisions

In some states, the date you and your spouse separated from each other is important. The separation date, or the date when you started living separately, comes into play with important decisions including how you divide your income, property, and debts as well as how much child support or spousal support is warranted.

Sometimes, couples can still be under the same roof with intentions to divorce. In this situation, your attorney can help you determine what other evidence you can use to establish a separation date. Some common factors courts consider include:

  • Where each spouse lives
  • Whether each spouse considers himself or herself married or separated
  • Whether either spouse dated others
  • Whether income tax filings were joint or separate
  • Whether you commingled your finances or kept them separate and, if previously commingled, when that ended
  • Other situation-specific factors

Date of Filing Initiates Court Proceedings

Whether you filed for divorce or your spouse filed, the date of the initial petition is important. The petition to the court is the official notice that one of you intends to dissolve the marriage. After receiving notice of the divorce petition, the other spouse then has a period of time to file an official response with the court. The time period varies by state law but is commonly 30 days.

Couples may also file a joint petition for divorce in many states. The date they file together is the date of filing in this situation.

Date of Judgment Finalizes Divorce

When the judge overseeing your divorce issues his or her final ruling on the case, your divorce is complete. At that point, you, your former spouse, and your attorneys receive copies of the decree of dissolution or divorce decree.

This legal document, signed by the judge, documents decisions about the case including child custody matters, asset and liability division, spousal maintenance awards, child support, and other matters brought before the court in pleadings. The divorce decree is the official court order terminating your marriage. When the clerk of courts in your county enters the divorce decree into the official records, your divorce is final.

As you can see, there are several important dates related to divorce actions. The date one spouse files a petition for divorce with the court starts the process. Then, the court in many states determines and uses the date of separation in making important decisions related to the divorce. Finally, the date of judgment is the official date the divorce is final. When you need to provide proof of your divorce or need to provide the exact date of your divorce, you generally use the date of judgment.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.