No one really likes paperwork, but it’s part of a lot of the important processes of life. This includes divorce. Once you make up your mind to file for divorce, you’ll encounter different types of documents before, during, and after the completion of the divorce process. Arguably the most important of such documents is the divorce decree and the divorce certificate, but you only get to pick one. What’s a divorce decree vs. divorce certificate, and is one better than the other?

Many people confuse the two documents in terms of meaning and usability. This article seeks to elaborate on the difference between a divorce decree vs. a divorce certificate in California. Read on to gain a deeper understanding of these divorce documents!

“Divorce is usually never pleasant but A People’s Choice made it much easier than it would have been if we tried to do the divorce paperwork on our own. They were very quick to respond to us and always took the time to answer all of our questions thoroughly, in addition to quickly. I would highly recommend them for handling divorce paperwork.”

Susan Z.

Made the process so easy for me. Also VERY prompt replies through email. So glad I used their services.

Kristina C.

“This team is efficient, professional, ethical and easy to work with. Any of my questions were responded to immediately. They did everything they could to help me. I highly recommend their services.”

Leigh A.

The service provided by A People’s Choice was very professional and comprehensive. We have used A People’s Choice on a previous occasion and were completely satisfied. We would highly recommend A People’s Choice to anyone!

R. Betancourt

“I was very happy with the service received. They were extremely responsive by phone and email and completed the document in less than 24 hours! All questions were answered promptly. I would highly recommend this service to anyone needing a legal document prepared!”


“Lightning fast response, I had my very simple document on the same day as my order for the very fair and reasonable price of $325 (including the rush fee!) compared to my attorney who quoted me 3 weeks and $2500. I will definitely use these folks again and highly recommend them!”

L. Carnes

“A People’s Choice helped me with my QDRO. They were very professional and very honest. They saved me a lot of money by having them do all the paper work. There was no hidden fees. I would recommend A People’s Choice for any of your needs. They are very knowledgeable in what they do. Thank you A People’s Choice for all your help!”

Debra H.

“A People’s Choice is awesome! They made the legal documentation process painless. I highly recommend A People’s Choice. The name says it all.”

Eric J.

“I was in need of some serious help and didn’t know what to do. I had contacted a lawyer and he wanted to charge me $1800.00. Then I found A People’s Choice. They were great. They got my paper work started and at a much lower cost, and steered me, with the help of lots of paper work, in the right direction. I am very grateful for the company’s services and would recommend them to any one that may need the services they offer. Thank you again.”

April R.

“When I first saw all the documents required to file I was overwhelmed at the thought of it all. I was already dealing with the stress of everything else and did not want to deal with the courts, a mountain load of paperwork and trips to file as well. When I looked around, I saw A People’s Choice had some great reviews and a decent price. I am VERY happy that I went with A People’s Choice. They were very, very helpful, Sandy was very nice and patient with me, despite all of my questions. With her assistance she helped to make this difficult time much easier by making the tedious paperwork process very easy and it didn’t take too much time at all! I definitely recommend A People’s Choice.”


“I’m so glad I found this company to handle my divorce. They were very professional and detail oriented. They answered all of my (many) questions and kept me informed along the way. They handled everything for me from hundreds of miles away and made it pretty seamless. The pricing was in the exact range we were looking for. Very honest company and great to work with. Highly recommend them to anyone!”

Jessica J.

“I can’t say enough about the level of service and professionalism I received working with A People’s Choice. Emails were always responded to quickly and thoughtfully. They really care about the process and helping you get the best result with no up-selling. Of course they can’t provide legal advice, but I was referred to an attorney when I needed some questions answered who was very reasonable and easy to get a hold of as well. The process played out according to plan and I ended up saving a lot of money by going with A People’s Choice over an attorney.”

M. Rice

“I recently required the help of A People’s Choice, Inc. and found them to be entirely professional. Everything was done in short order yet all was explained to my satisfaction. They were friendly and courteous. I am happy and impressed.”

C. Zyobel

“I want to personally thank the staff at A People’s Choice for making my divorce process so simple and painless . From my 1st contact in the office they were was warm and friendly and took the time to explain each step in a very simple and quick manner .Filing for a divorce can be a difficult and painful process and the staff was extremely professional and clear in all guidance and explanations. I highly recommend A People’s Choice.”

C. Hannon

“A People’s Choice – Saved me time, money & hardship. The people are professional and a pleasure to work with, I totally recommend them to everyone! I will used them for all my legal documents in the future. Thank you!”

C. Lazalde

“Thank you A People’s Choice for saving me all the headaches when I thought I could save money and file my own divorce paperwork. The court clerks offer no assistance whatsoever with simple questions and handed me another packet to figure out on my own. Trust me, the best advice I can give you is to call A People’s Choice first. They typed up my paperwork and my divorce was final in two weeks! I am so grateful to them and I would highly recommend them to everyone.”

L. Bayer

“Great service. Highly professional and efficient creating legal documents. I am completely satisfied and highly recommend them to others. I am so glad I found you on the internet. People who are looking for professional legal services look no further, try A People’s Choice.”

Radtech N.

“I highly recommend A People’s Choice.The customer service and professionalism is exceptional. My documents were delivered to me quickly and accurately. I didn’t contact them until late on Thursday afternoon and had everything in hand to be at the County Government Center by 8:00am on Friday morning. Compared to using an attorney for complete paperwork, this service is only a fraction of the cost, more responsive, and better suited to quickly completing complicated court forms. “

Linda F.

“Great way to get your divorce processed without attorneys for approx. $495. There were a few small hiccups with the documents, but nothing major, which I caught when I reviewed. I am happy with their service, efficient and organized, and would recommend them for filing a divorce that is mutually settled and skip the attorneys. Note: They are not process servers, so find your own server, or if you can do it yourself and save the $$. Thanks for a job well done!”

Bud P.

“A People’s Choice is a great option to get legal documents prepared inexpensively. They offer a very professional, low-cost service for all sorts of legal paperwork, from living trusts to divorce, bankruptcy and everything in between. I always received a prompt reply to my inquiries and found the legal guide they gave me extremely helpful and informative. If you know what you want to do, don’t need legal advice and just need help preparing legal paperwork, I strongly recommend calling this company. You won’t be disappointed and will save lots of money as compared to using an expensive attorney!”

Kathryn R.

“A People’s Choice helped me to complete Child Custody modification paperwork. After looking online and trying to figure out how to do it myself, I decided to search Yelp for help. No disappointment here. The service was easy and painless. It might have been nice to have a discussion by phone, but it was still quite easy and quick via email. Overall, the process was simple and I would use A People’s Choice again. I am pleased.”

Michael J.

“Very professional, excellent follow up and easy to work with. I will recommend them often! The staff rocks!”

Gene A.

Extremely satisfied with the performance of A People’s Choice. The communication was excellent and all was handled in a timely efficient manner.

Pam T.

“I used A People’s Choice for filing divorce paperwork for an uncontested divorce. The price was very affordable and fair. Excellent service throughout. Not being able to call and talk on the phone worried me at first but they responded to every email extremely quickly. There directions were very easy to understand and they had no problem explaining something multiple times if I had questions or did not fully understand the directions. Will definitely use them again for any other legal documents I might need help with in the future.”

Frank M.

“I had the opportunity to use A People’s Choice again, Wow doesn’t say enough for the way the staff was able to get me in and out and all my answers answered. Very Professional, Organized and Friendly. I highly recommend!”

Debbie E.

“I just recently moved to the Ventura area and didn’t know of any companies to help me with my legal paperwork. I am glad I chose A People’s Choice. They were very friendly and helped me with my documents in a very efficient way in very little time. Give them a try and you will be writing a positive review just as I did.”

D. Buelna

“Super prices, great service, I can’t say enough about this place. We had A People’s Choice help us with a trust and POA. They are the best!”

Jessica S.

“This company is excellent! They helped me get through all of my paperwork, submitted it to the court, and now everything is complete. Everything was clear and almost too easy. I saved thousands of dollars!”

Seth M.

“A People’s Choice prepares legal documents so you can represent yourself and still look like you know what you’re doing. I used their services recently and found them to be professional as well as extremely helpful. I couldn’t be happier.”

Evan J.

“I needed help understanding and filling out legal documents but I didn’t have enough money to pay for an attorney. I searched the internet for a short period of time looking for help and when I found A People’s Choice, I was relieved to know that I would get the exact service that I needed at an affordable price. The staff was very professional and helpful with my legal documents. They worked around my schedule and responded to my emails on a timely manner. They took care of all the paper work and filing and kept me posted. I would highly recommend A People’s Choice for your legal documents as you will get outstanding service at an affordable price. “

Sharon B.

“A People s Choice is a business that delivers what they promise. I was treated like a VIP by their staff and Sandy was the best. As for their services, they promptly delivered all the official documents and fillings on my behalf and their price is more than reasonable. In short, this is a business that I will always recommend and continue to use. Thank you!”

Juan B.

“I would just like to comment on what a great job A People’s Choice did with my divorce. I have just received the final judgement and could not be happier. They told me up front what the cost would be. They also let me know how they keep the cost down by communicating through email. I also appreciated how when I had a question they got back with me in the day or in the evening. Thank You for you quick responses. A People’s Choice is a good deal for the consumer.”

R. Leyva

“Can not remember how I found A People’s Choice. I think it was through a web search. In any case I found the company and have been and am completely satisfied with the service provided. The person I worked with (Sandra) was very friendly whenever we spoke on the phone and always responded promptly to any emails. The answers were always clear. The entire process was smooth and painless. I would recommend A People’s Choice without hesitation.”

Les A.

I have worked with A People’s Choice since September 2013.  They are very knowledgeable and experienced.  Their work is done professionally and timely.  They show a real concern for my situation.  I recommend you give them the opportunity to be of service to you.”

D. Echeverra

“How much is peace of mind worth to you? This company of hardworking, caring individuals will help you get the job done in the quickest, most efficient way. Conveniently located. Check it out. Thank you!”

Diana K.

“I was overwhelmed with my divorce,custody and child support paperwork Sandy at People’s Choice made everything so much easier and really put my mind at ease. I couldn’t be happier with their assistance and it really made all the process speed up for me. Thank you so much for all your help.”

Samantha R.

“A People’s Choice is extremely customer orientated and friendly.  Their service was fast and reliable. in the future, should I need their services again, I will not hesitate to call them. All e-mails were answered with either a phone call or e-mail sometimes even late at night


“We love A People Choice. It’s legally run and professional. Everyone has to have a recommendation and license. Highly recommended.”

Christy C.

The Divorce Certificate

Let’s start with the divorce certificate since it’s the simpler of the two in the divorce decree vs divorce certificate question. A certificate of divorce represents proof of your divorce. It doesn’t dive deeper into the details of the divorce like a divorce decree, which you’ll learn about in a moment.

The divorce certificate only contains brief information; it’s similar to a marriage certificate in that regard.  It includes the names of the two spouses, the date, and the location of the divorce for informational purposes. This document acts as a proof for your divorce, but it doesn’t outline the terms of the divorce as other divorce forms do.

In cases where you don’t need a detailed decree, you may use a divorce certificate. An example of a legal application for a divorce certificate entails when you want to change your name or get remarried.

Getting a Divorce Certificate

pexels karolina grabowska 7876048

Getting a divorce certificate doesn’t demand the effort of acquiring some other divorce records. The state issued you with this document, and it’s majorly for record-keeping. Note that the court doesn’t issue this document.

In the U.S., laws vary by the state concerning those eligible for a divorce certificate apart from the divorced couple or their attorney. The National Center for Health Statistics provides information on where one can access a divorce certificate based on their state. This body keeps records of all U.S. states, hence enabling easy access to both divorce decrees and divorce certificates. It also outlines which agencies one can obtain other important documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates.

Apart from that, you can always conduct online searches to determine other reputable companies that can provide access to these vital documents. There are plenty of third-party options, but be wary of being overcharged.

Uses of a Divorce Certificate

Despite its limited use, this document represents a vital record. Since not all states offer this document, you need to first confirm this with your state of residence. In California, you can use a divorce certificate for the following reasons or purposes:

  • Obtaining a travel visa
  • Proving that you divorced without exposing any finer details for the divorce
  • Requesting a name change i.e., going back to the names you used before getting married
  • Request form for a passport
  • Inheritance purposes
  • Proving that you can proceed with your marriage to a different person

The Divorce Decree

amicable divorceA divorce decree, also known as a divorce judgment, is by far the more complex in the divorce decree vs divorce certificate comparison. This is an official document that you receive from the court to indicate the dissolution of marriage. In California, this official document signifies the end of the divorce process that you and your partner undertook.

The divorce decree contains key facts and information concerning the termination of your marriage. Such facts and information, as outlined by the judge, including issues related to:

  • Asset division
  • Child custody arrangements and visitation
  • Child support
  • Alimony (former spousal maintenance payments)

In scenarios where you and your partner solved the issues of your divorce out of court, the decree will indicate your final settlement agreement. A settlement agreement serves the same function as a court order, which is used if the court steps in to settle a marriage agreement.

In most instances, the judge has the singular duty of signing a divorce decree. After that, the filing of this important document takes place through your county clerk at the county courthouse.

Where Can You Get a Copy of a Divorce Decree?

Another question that may come to mind is: what if I lose this important document? Everyone loses things occasionally, and this has certainly happened to others in the past. The good news is, you can always request a certified copy of a divorce decree from the court.

What if you need to get a copy of someone else’s divorce decree? In scenarios where you never participated in the divorce proceedings, you may request notarized permission from either of the involved parties.

You may request a divorce decree from the courts at any time between 7 to 10 years after the divorce. California laws require the courts to keep such divorce papers for this time range.

What to Do After Receiving Your Divorce Decree

Easy Divorce

A divorce decree signifies the end of your marriage or domestic partnership. It also grants you the freedom to get married to someone else.

Since it’s a legally binding document, a divorce decree outlines various rules that you should adhere to after the entire divorce process. If either of the parties violates the instructions outlined in the divorce decree document, legal action may follow. Some of the key issues that you need to note include alimony and child support, property division, accounts that need closure following the divorce, and specific deadlines.

Here’s a quick checklist of tasks you should complete (if you haven’t already) after receiving a decree for your divorce. Remember that when submitting property for division in financial institutions, you should carry with you a copy of your divorce decree. This will act as proof of divorce, giving you the right to an equal division of joint financial assets.

  • Close any joint credit cards
  • Update important estate planning documents like wills and trusts
  • Save an electronic copy of the divorce decree
  • For your life insurance policies and retirement accounts, update the information regarding beneficiary designations
  • If you have any vehicles, update their titles as needed
  • Update emergency contacts
  • Retitle or close any joint bank accounts that you had with your ex-spouse
  • After dividing your investment accounts, obtain a QDRO to split your 401k and 403b plans
  • Make necessary payments as per your divorce settlement, such as property settlement payment and child support payment

Ensure you perform these activities before or immediately following the termination of your marriage or domestic partnership.

Additional Uses for Your Divorce Decree

A divorce decree document officially finalizes your divorce process. However, this document may have some additional uses. These include the following:

A Roadmap to Post-Divorce Activities

A divorce decree outlines some orders you have to follow after your divorce. Therefore, it serves as a roadmap to the activities you partake in after the divorce. It outlines how you should carry out every activity as per the California laws concerning divorce and division of property.

For example, let’s say you’re financing a joint bank loan taken out before the divorce. A divorce decree outlines how you can do this based on the agreement you made during the divorce process. Should you run into any issues, you can always seek the guidance of the court.

A Document for Reference

Since this document contains detailed information about your divorce, you can reference it if any disagreements arise between you and your ex. A divorce decree may serve as a reference document in case of disagreements on issues like child support, parenting time, or alimony. Since it forms a binding legal agreement between the two of you, you need to ensure that you follow it to the letter.

An Enforcement Tool

Following a divorce, you can use a divorce decree to ensure that every party adheres to court orders by the judge. It can be used to enforce every instruction outlined in the marriage dissolution agreement. If your ex-spouse fails to adhere to some of the terms of the divorce decree, you can file a complaint with the court that gave the divorce judgment. The court will then make a follow-up and enforce the given orders.

Divorce Decree as Proof of Your Divorce

In some instances, you may need to prove to various institutions that you had a legal divorce. This may entail scenarios like seeking to update your vehicle details, closing a joint bank account, or making adjustments to your life insurance policies. In such cases, you need a copy of your divorce decree to prove that you terminated your marriage.

Getting Help with Your Divorce Decree vs. Divorce Certificate

We hope this article addressed any divorce certificate vs divorce decree questions you have. If you’ve recently undergone a divorce, are you still finding it a challenge to obtain either of these divorce documents? Your situation can easily change with the help of a legal document assistant.

At A People’s Choice, we promise to guide you on how to conveniently request a divorce decree document or a divorce certificate from either the court or the state department responsible. Given the quality of services we provide to our clients, you should make A People’s Choice your number one legal document assistant. Contact us today at 800-747-2780 to enjoy reliable and affordable services today.