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Divorce Decree vs Divorce Certificate

The Differences Between a Divorce Decree and Certificate

After meeting with your divorce lawyer and going through a divorce, it is important to have the proper divorce documents. Two documents that come into play are a divorce decree and a divorce certificate. Both items identify the parties involved and the agreements made by the court and can be used as proof of the divorce.

What Is a Divorce Decree?

A divorce decree is an official court document containing your case’s last rulings. A decree can also document the judge’s final decisions regarding your divorce if you went to trial. The decree settles any disputes between the parties involved with their property, children, and other previously shared items. The document’s primary purpose is to thoroughly outline all disputes between two parties for reference in future conflicts. At the end of reading the document, a person will clearly understand their rights in the divorce pertaining to child parenting issues, child support, maintenance, property division, debts, vehicles, and more.

What Is a Divorce Certificate? 

A divorce certificate is a document that lists your divorce, the names of the people divorced, and the date and place of divorce. The courts do not prepare the certificate; instead, it’s put together by the state’s health department or bureau of vital statistics. You can find a divorce certificate in the same place where you can get your birth certificate. You can use this certificate to change your last name on passports and your driver’s licenses. Some states don’t issue divorce certificates, but typically, a paper copy will be mailed to you for those that do. 

Key Differences Between a Decree and Certificate

When combined, a divorce decree and a divorce certificate can outline the full scope of the divorce agreement — including parenting issues, property division, names of both spouses involved, the date and place of divorce, etc. A critical difference between the two documents is that a court issues the decree, and a certificate is issued by the state’s health department or bureau of vital statistics. A decree is more in-depth and can be multiple pages, depending on how many items a couple once shared and if they had children, which needed to be rightly separated. A certificate is a one-page document with basic information about who, what, when, and where the divorce occurred.

Why You Need a Divorce Decree or Certificate  

Both documents can be necessary to show proof of divorce and the layout of your agreement by the ruling of the courts. A divorce certificate’s sole purpose is for the people divorced to have a document to show they are divorced, with whom they divorced, and the date and place of divorce. On the other hand, a divorce decree details the nitty gritty details and agreements that the Court will enforce after the couple is no longer married.    

For professional advice and help in settling your divorce, Strieker Law is available to help. Please arrange a consultation by calling us at 618-391-1120 or emailing us at

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