California Divorce Decree Sample

The woman is holding a divorce decree document
Last Updated on April 2024

It’s not a surprise that many couples who have decided to end their marriage are wondering, “what does a California divorce decree look like?” The reason is simple – this is a document everyone wishes to obtain as soon as possible, so it’s natural to be curious about its contents.

Among sample divorce papers in California, a divorce decree or judgment is the most comprehensive one, as it summarizes the essential information about your case related to child custody support, visitation or parenting time, spousal support, property division, attorney fees, and so on.

Here is an example of a final judgment in California:

Download FL-180 Judgment (Family Law)

What is a Divorce Decree?

Obtaining a divorce decree in the courthouse

A decree is a document reflecting formal proof that a marriage has been ended. It summarizes all the aspects of a settlement agreement that spouses must follow. A divorce decree in California, just like in any other state, can only be obtained if you and your spouse have managed to resolve all the issues related to your marriage either yourself or through court.

As soon as the judge signs the final paperwork,  you can get a copy of a divorce decree in California and your certificate. These are two distinct documents that have the different legal power and are issued by the court and state separately.

A decree is a bigger document than a certificate, containing more detailed information about the terms of your marriage dissolution. It serves both as proof that divorce took place and as an enforcement document with the terms both parties are bound to comply with. It also will be a record to refer to in case one of the parties does not follow the agreement or disagrees with some of its aspects.

A certificate has only one page with essential information, such as the place and date of divorce, the name of the parties, and so on. It serves only as proof of dissolution and can be used in case one wants to change a name or apply for a marriage certificate.

How to Obtain a Divorce Decree in California?

To get copies of divorce papers in California, you will need to reach the court in which your dissolution was granted. According to CA laws, it is usually the Superior Court of the county the petitioner resides in. A certified copy of the divorce decree California is then prepared by the clerk and given to you along with other related documents. You will have to pay a fee of $15 for this copy.

You may need exemplification of a divorce decree if you have another court case in the future. It is as valid as the original as it bears the clerk’s signature and a court seal on it. Oftentimes, it also includes the judge’s signature and the certificate confirming that the clerk is authorized to confirm that your decree copy is authentic.

If your case was finalized after 1984, then you can obtain a divorce certificate in California in court as well in person or by mail. The certificates of marriage dissolutions that were granted in the period of 1962-1984 can only be obtained in The Department of Public Health. It will cost you $16.