Step right up, ladies and gentlemen. See the amazing, the stupendous, the colossal Final Decree of Divorce. Behold the mysteries and secrets revealed right before your eyes!

The Final Decree of Divorce, The Eighth Wonder

As you work through all the stages of separation — the six-month or 12-month waiting period, filing for divorce, affidavits, depositions, evidence heard ore tenus — at some point you and your attorney will breathlessly await the Final Decree of Divorce.

But just what is this Eighth Wonder of Virginia? What does one look like? What goes into it, and who delivers it?

A Final Decree of Divorce, such as a sample from the Circuit Court of the City of Chesapeake, is a judgment, decree, and court order as to the final divorce from matrimony of two people (the plaintiff, who is the spouse bringing the suit for divorce, and the defendant, who is the other spouse).

A Vinculo Matrimonii

Some Latin phrases sound like ferocious beasts. We hear a vinculo matrimonii and imagine a venomous, multi-fanged critter (don’t laugh; we may have our own Commonwealth Bigfoot). Turns out, though, that a vinculo matrimonii signifies a divorce that completely dissolves the marriage bond and releases the two people from all marital obligations.

A decree of divorce a vinculo matrimonii is the real deal; once that paperwork is filled in and signed by a presiding Virginia judge, you and your former spouse are done, done, and done.

Semper Letteris Mandate

Any effects you hope to gain from the divorce must be written down (as in the Latin slogan, semper letteris mandate, or “always get it in writing”) and included in that final decree of divorce.

The decree is a checklist or, perhaps more accurately, a menu:

  • The parties have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for more than one year, pursuant to Virginia Code § 20-91(A)(9)(a)
  • The parties have lived separate and apart without any cohabitation and without interruption for more than six months, the parties having entered into a separation agreement and there being no minor children born of the parties, born of either party and adopted by the other, or adopted by both parties, pursuant to Virginia Code § 20-91(A)(9)(a)

Other parts of the final decree of divorce pertain to all these details:

  • Separation agreement
  • Social Security numbers
  • Spousal support
  • Equitable distribution of assets and debts
  • Child custody and parenting time (visitation)
  • Child support

An additional topic included in the decree can be the transfer of child-related issues to the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court.

Beware the Details!

Virginia does all that it can to protect its citizens from their own mistakes. In the final decree of divorce, a section reminds signers of the document (that’s you, your former spouse, and the judge) of one major effect of divorce:

  • Beneficiary designations for any death benefit, as defined in subsection B of 20-111.1 of the Code of Virginia, made payable to a former spouse may or may not be automatically revoked by operation of law upon the entry of a final decree of annulment or divorce. If a party intends to revoke any beneficiary designation made payable to a former spouse following the annulment or divorce, the party is responsible for following any and all instructions to change such beneficiary designation given by the provider of the death benefit. Otherwise, existing beneficiary designations may remain in full force and effect after the entry of a final decree of annulment or divorce.

The Circuit Court politely but emphatically reminds both parties to the divorce that your life insurance beneficiary designations may be revoked by your insurer. This is significant since the policies could have been part of the property settlement agreement. Be sure to speak with your attorney about this financial wrinkle.

Gavel Down!

Unlike in the movies, the issuance of the Final Decree of Divorce comes not with a bang but with the quiet sound of signatures scribbled on ordinary paper. The two parties (you and your ex-spouse, plus your attorneys) sign the paper, and the judge signs it. Once signed, it is a legal document. The paperwork is delivered to the court clerk and the case is moved to “ended causes,” or completed court work.

Call The Firm For Men in Virginia Beach

The best way to understand all the details of the Final Decree of Divorce is through your family law attorney. Ask questions. Take notes. Make certain you are prepared for all the effects those five or seven sheets of paper will have on your life.

If just the words and terms of family law are tricky, consider how confusing the actual legal work can be! That is why you need The Firm For Men on your side. As a Virginia man, you want your rights, finances, and children protected through separation and divorce. Contact us today or telephone our office at (757) 383-9184.