Your divorce is final after you’ve turned in all required forms and a judge has reviewed and signed them. At this time, your marriage is officially ended, and you and your spouse return to single status. Still, your legal obligations aren’t necessarily over.
The agreements and/or orders drawn up during the proceedings stipulate actions you and your spouse must take even after your divorce. You must adhere to the stipulations (or change them as necessary). Otherwise, you or your spouse could face various consequences.
How Long You Must Wait Before Your Divorce Is Final
One of the last steps in divorce proceedings is submitting a set of forms to the court. The documents include settlement agreements, court orders, and a judgment. A judge will review the paperwork to ensure that everything is accurate and complete. If all is in order, the judge will sign off. The signed forms will be mailed to you, or you can pick them up at the court.
California has a 6-month waiting period before a divorce can be finalized. Thus, even if you have turned in your documents and received signed ones back, if it has not been at least 6 months since you filed your petition, your marriage is not yet legally ended. The dissolution judgment will specify the date your divorce is final.
Complying with the Terms of Your Divorce
During your divorce proceedings, you and your spouse had to settle various issues.
- Child custody: Whether you and your spouse will share custody and whether one spouse has visitation rights.
- Child support: Whether you or your spouse will pay the other a monthly amount to help provide for your child’s (or children’s) needs.
- Spousal support: Whether you or your spouse will pay the other a monthly amount to ensure they can take care of reasonable minimum needs.
- Property division: How marital assets will be split between you and your spouse.
The matters may have been resolved through agreements between you and your spouse or by orders from the court. Either way, once the judge signs the judgment, you and your spouse are legally bound to adhere to the terms of your divorce. In other words, whatever agreements or orders were issued, you must follow them without exception. For instance, if you are ordered to pay child support, you must ensure that your payment is made monthly and for the correct amount.
Violating the Terms of Your Divorce
Because the terms of your divorce are court-ordered, you or your spouse can be subject to legal consequences if you fail to do what’s required. In matters of willful non-compliance, you or your spouse can take action to force adherence.
To illustrate, suppose your spouse was supposed to send you money for profits from selling certain assets. However, although they sold the property, they did not give you a portion of the money. You tried to get your spouse to voluntarily turn over the funds, but they didn’t.
You can then request that the court issue an order to:
- Garnish your spouse’s wages,
- Levy your spouse’s bank accounts, or
- Put a lien on your spouse’s property.
You or your spouse could also initiate contempt of court proceedings if either of you are alleged to have violated a court order concerning matters other than payments to satisfy property division. For instance, if your custody agreement specifies that you have visitation rights on the weekends, but your spouse refuses to allow you access to your child (or children), your spouse is in willful violation of the terms of your divorce. You have the right to take legal action. If your spouse is found in contempt, they could face sanctions such as jail time and/or fines.
The consequences stemming from a failure to comply with terms are serious. If your situation changes after your divorce, making it difficult to meet your obligations, it’s important to get a post-judgment modification. The modification is an updated order from the court allowing for changes in terms such as visitation, spousal support, or property division.
Other Considerations Following a Divorce
After your divorce is finalized, you may have some ends to tie up that aren’t ordered by the court. For example, you may want to update beneficiaries on insurance policies, change your name on official documents, or close credit cards you had with your former spouse.
Contact Our Firm Today
You have various rights and responsibilities following your divorce. If you need to change a judgment or enforce an order, consult with a Los Angeles attorney.
At Claery & Hammond, LLP, we can provide the legal guidance you need. Schedule a consultation by calling us at (310) 817-6904 or submitting an online contact form today.