Judgments of Divorce are called “Final” Judgments of Divorce. There are “Final” Restraining Orders, “Final” Judgments of Adoption and the like. But, how final are they? Does “Final” really stand for “Finally Free”? The honest answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no.
In the case of divorces, the Final Judgment of Divorce permanently and irrevocably terminates the parties’ marriage. Each party is then free to go marry someone else if they want. However, if there are children involved, the Final Judgment of Divorce does not mean that they are “Finally” free of one another. It just means that the marriage is over and the parties are no longer spouses. Their obligations to their children and to each other as co-parents continue, even if those same children are adults with families themselves. The only way a “Final Judgment of Divorce” means you are “Finally” free is if there are no children, no financial issues and no strings of any kind that continue to tie the exes together. For example, even if there is no custody, parenting time and/or child support issues involved, there may still be a house that hasn’t yet sold, assets that have not yet been transferred entirely or that ongoing thorn: payment to the ex-spouse for alimony.
That being said, there is definitely value to having a Final Judgment of Divorce in hand. The Gold Seal is the trophy for having made it successfully, more or less, through the divorce process. It certainly is proof of the finality of the demise of the marriage, the end of that chapter and the coming of a fresh start. However, it does not necessarily translate into “Finally Free” such that Freebird should be your new theme song.
The same can be true of Final Restraining Orders. These are final orders in New Jersey that will last forever unless one of two things happens: first, the victim decides to dismiss the FRO, which they can do at any time or second, the abuser files what is called a Carfagno application to dismiss the FRO over the objection of the victim. In a Carfagno application, the abuser has to establish 11 factors for the Court to consider the request for a dismissal. At the conclusion of a Carfagno application, the Court could dismiss the FRO even though it is a considered a “Final” Order. (This is not to suggest there is any automatic right to the dismissal of an FRO if a Carfagno application is made, only that there is a right to make the application. The Court could just as easily enforce the FRO and deny the Carfagno application).
Before becoming the biggest Lynyrd Skynyrd fan around and downloading Free Bird to every device you have, consider whether or not the Final Order you have is really a “Finally Free” Order.