What is a Divorce Status (or a Case Status)?
A Divorce Status is simply a way for the court system to distinguish whether or not a divorce has been finalized. Sometimes this is called a Case Status, though the term Divorce Status is more often used. Different courts use different terms, so be on the lookout for both terms.
Once you have begun your divorce online or with the help of a lawyer and the initial paperwork has been filed, your divorce case will be assigned a Status. This status won’t change until the divorce has been approved, dismissed, or a need arises for additional paperwork to be filed.
Note: Don’t confuse the Case Status with a Status Conference. A Status Conference refers to a short meeting, prior to any hearings, to update the court on any changes that have happened since the filing of the initial paperwork. This conference is an early step in the process, and doesn't refer to the final Case Status.
What are some common types of Divorce Statuses/Case Statuses?
There are two main types of Divorce Statuses: Active (which means that the case is still pending) and Disposed (which means that the divorce has been finalized or dismissed).
If the Status of your divorce is Active, it means that the divorce has not been finalized. When a case is Active, the Judgment of Dissolution (which is what most states call a divorce order) has not been signed by a judge. Usually, this simply means that the divorce proceedings are still in progress (Open). Pay close attention to any documents that you receive from the court, however, as an Active status may also indicate that the court is waiting on you to submit certain required documents.
The other main Status is Disposed. This usually means that the divorce has been finalized (i.e. the Judgment of Dissolution has been signed by a judge). If this is the case, then your divorce case has been finalized.
Depending on what state you are filing in, and whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, the length of time until a case is resolved can vary. The state of Washington, for example, requires a minimum of 90 days before a request for divorce can be processed. Check with your individual court or district for the average length of time that divorce proceedings may take.
Note: In very rare cases, the court will use the term Disposed to indicate that the case has been Dismissed (i.e. thrown out, usually because of faulty documents). Be sure to clarify that this isn’t the case in your situation.
Where can one find this information?
The Status of a divorce or dissolution case is almost always considered public record, and easily accessible. There are many ways to find out the Status of your case. Here are your options:
Call your lawyer (if you have one). She or he will have the most up-to-date information on your Divorce Case Status. Be careful, though: some attorneys charge per-minute when speaking on the phone to clients. Know your lawyer’s billing procedures before you call.
Check online. Many states have converted their court records to Searchable Online Databases. You will need to know, at the very least, the Case Number of the divorce record you want to find. It also helps to know the First and Last Names of each party involved, the Date of Filing, and the specific Court where the divorce was originally filed.
Some states, like Washington and Missouri, maintain statewide databases. Others, like California and Texas, will direct you to each individual county court’s database.
Call (or visit) the courthouse. You can find the phone number and address in the Yellow Pages. Most family court clerks will be able to tell you the Status of a divorce over the phone, if you know the Case Number. Others ask for identifying information, like social security numbers, so be prepared with as much information as you can before you call or visit.
Check your mail regularly. Make sure that the court system has your current mailing address on file. The court will send out a notice to each party once a divorce has been Finalized.