What is a Divorce Decree and How do I Get a Copy?
Updated: Nov 3, 2020
A divorce decree ends a marriage, and orders how property is to be divided, and who has custody and visitation with the children
You may obtain your divorce decree online, or by contacting the court clerk’s office
What is a Divorce Decree?
In Oklahoma, a divorce decree is a document that a judge signs when a divorce is final. Typically, an attorney drafts a divorce decree. In an uncontested divorce, the lawyers for one or both of the parties prepare the decree, obtain the signatures of both spouses, and give the decree to the judge for his signature.
In a contested divorce, after the case goes to trial, the judge will announce his decision. The judge will then order the attorney for one of the parties to draft a decree that reflects the judge’s decision. After the attorney drafts this decree, the attorney will give the decree to the judge, for the judge to sign.
At the moment the judge signs the divorce decree, the decree ends the marriage. However, under Oklahoma law, neither spouse may marry anyone (except each other) until six months after the judge signs the decree. After the judge signs the decree, the attorney will file the decree in the court clerk’s office. The court clerk will store the decree at the courthouse.
The divorce decree generally contains orders governing property, children, and alimony. Oklahoma law provides eight types of relief, which a court may grant in a divorce decree:
1. Termination of the marriage;
2. Child Custody (if there are children of the marriage);
3. Child Support (if there are children of the marriage);
4. Visitation with the Children (if there are children of the marriage);
6. Division of property and debts;
7. Protective Order; and
8. Restoration of a party’s former name.
To see an example of a divorce decree, click on my “Oklahoma Divorce Forms” page.
If a judge has signed a divorce decree, anything in the decree is an order of the court. If either spouse disobeys a provision in the decree, the noncompliant spouse is guilty of contempt of court. Contempt of court is a crime, and if a person is in contempt, the judge may fine the guilty party up to $500.00, and sentence him to serve up to six months in jail.
How to Get a Copy of a Divorce Decree
After you have been divorced, it is important that you keep a copy of your divorce decree in a safe place. Your divorce decree is legal evidence that the court has ordered all of the provisions in the decree. If you have children, you may need a copy of the decree to show certain persons (e.g., school and medical personnel, police officers) that you have custodial rights to your children. If the decree awards you property, you may need a copy of your decree to demonstrate ownership. For example, if the decree awards you land or a home, you may need to file your decree with the county clerk’s office to show that you are the record owner of the property. If the decree awards you an automobile, you may need to give the decree to your local tag agency, to transfer the title.
After you were divorced, your lawyer should have given you a copy of your divorce decree. If you have lost your decree, you can obtain a copy from the court clerk’s office. Because a divorce decree is a public record, state law requires the court to provide a copy of the decree to any person who asks for it.
Obtaining Divorce Decrees Online
In the past few years, Oklahoma has published all divorce documents online, where anyone can access the documents. In Noble County, Oklahoma, the court publishes, online, all divorce documents that have been filed since statehood in 1907. The state court system has said that they eventually plan to publish, online, all divorce documents since statehood, in every county in the state. So far, they have not done so.
Thus, if your divorce was granted within the past few years in Oklahoma, or was granted at any time in Noble County, you should be able to find your decree online. Here’s how:
1. Go to www.oscn.net
2. At the top of the page, click on “Court Records”
3. Then, click “Search OSCN Dockets”
4. You should then see a page that looks like this:
5. Type in your name as it was prior to the marriage, or your spouse’s name as it existed prior to the marriage. Or, if you know the case number, type the case number in the “Search by Case Number” bar.
6. Press “Go.”
7. You should then see a page that looks like this:
The page will show all cases with the name of the person, that you have entered. If you typed in the case number, the page will show all cases with that case number.
8. Look for the case that says “In re the Marriage of” and then shows your name and your former spouse’s name.
9. Click on this case.
10. Scroll down to where the page says “Decree of Dissolution of Marriage” like this:
11. If your case was filed in the last few years, the decree should be online. If you see language that says “Document Available” and then says “TIFF” and “PDF” then your divorce decree is available online. Click on “TIFF” to download your decree in TIFF format; click on “PDF” to download your decree in PDF format.
If your divorce decree is not available online
If your divorce decree is not available online, you may obtain a copy either by calling the court clerk’s office (you may find their phone number here) or by going to the clerk’s office in person. Tell the clerk your name and your former spouse’s name. The clerk should then send you a copy of your decree. The clerk may charge you a small fee for the decree.
If you need a certified copy of your decree
Some agencies will require a certified copy of your decree. To get a certified copy of the decree, ask the court clerk to stamp and sign the copy. The court clerk’s stamp and signature show that the decree is an authentic copy of the decree that was filed.
You cannot obtain certified copies of your decree online. You will have to personally contact the court clerk, and ask them for a certified copy.
Your divorce decree is not hard to find. If you are divorced, you should definitely have a copy. If you need a copy, don’t delay. Get your decree online, or contact your court clerk today.