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Three forms are required to have your legal separation decree converted into a divorce decree: Motion to Convert Decree of Legal Separation to Decree of Dissolution, Order to Convert Decree of Legal Separation to Decree of Dissolution, and the Decree of Dissolution itself. Topics addressed on these forms include: legal name changes, debt and property division, custody and your parenting plan, child support and spousal maintenance,
After all the forms are completed by you and your attorney, they need to be submitted to the court with the proper filing fees. At this point, the forms will be reviewed by the magistrate or judge. Once he or she signs the order and enters it officially, your decree will become one of dissolution of marriage. This signed order is then sent to both parties. You will want to keep certified copies of this order for your records.
Converting your legal separation decree into a divorce decree means that your separation terms are going to be what is used in your divorce as well. If these terms are not working, you will not want to convert the decree as is because those same terms will apply in the divorce. It’s critical to review your separation decree with an attorney to confirm it is going to work as your divorce decree before filing for the conversion with the court. While decrees can be modified after they have been issued by the court, it is yet another process you would have to go through, and you also have to be able to demonstrate that some significant change has occurred to warrant the modification if you and your spouse are not in agreement regarding the changes.
If you believe some material changes need to be made to your separation decree before it can be used as a basis for the final divorce, you should speak to an experienced family law attorney first. This is especially true if you and your spouse cannot agree on the changes.
Converting a legal separation decree into one of divorce is a relatively simple process as long as the decree’s terms are still acceptable to both parties. Follow all the requirements set by the court for conversion and consult an experienced attorney at Burnham Law if you are ready to end the separation and get divorced.