Some may view divorce records, or divorce decree, as a reminder of the damage done during the process of ending one’s marriage. For the government, they do not require viewing legal documentation with any sort of feelings attached, so it becomes neither a positive nor a negative occurrence. They simply are just papers that prove the dissolution of the marriage for both spouses, allowing them to legally move forward in their separate lives.
Function at the DMV
Many people are unaware what divorce records do. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, divorce records can be beneficial for very specific legal transactions. One of these reasons is for legal name changes. The Social Security Administration (SSA) requires you apply for a name change with the agency, providing the divorce record during the application process.
Similarly to that of a marriage certificate, divorce records can show proof of the name change and legal status as a single adult. This becomes necessary when reapplying for a driver’s license (which may require the records every time you apply for a new driver’s license going forward), changing your name on your vehicle title, and changing your name on your registration through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Not only will these require your divorce records, there are some DMV locations that may require your new social security card.
The divorce records also can be required when applying for a marriage certificate for any future weddings, according to Brides Magazine. Conceptually, this is similar to a situation where you are a widow or widower and remarrying to a new spouse, needing to present a death certificate of your late spouse.
All of this presentation of legal documents is to ensure that you are no longer married to your previous spouse. Polygamy and bigamy are generally frowned upon and also illegal in the United States, so concerned government agencies take this very seriously.
How to acquire them
The method of obtaining divorce records is standardized. According to the DMV’s site, if you ever require an additional or replacement copy of the records, you can get a certified copy from the courthouse located in the county where you obtained your divorce. This process is entirely based on jurisdiction and can change depending on the state, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
There also are third-party agencies that you can order your vital records from, and divorce records are among those considered vital. The state gets to decide, however, if that agency is allowed to access the records and provide certified copies of them, according to the DMV. These agency are similar to that of My Heritage or Ancestry.com, which list an index of marriage and divorce records in their civil records, as well as marriage records from their religious records section.
Risks to your credit
Rather than being affected by divorce records directly, finances and credit are affected by aspects of the divorce process, as a whole. Many of the financial issues surrounding divorce can impact your credit score, according to Experian.
Due to how accounts are typically set up when you are married with a joint owner, cosigner, or authorized user, the account needs to be closed completely or have one spouse’s name totally removed from the account prior to the divorce.
The divorce records help specify who is responsible for accounts opened during the marriage without breaking the contracts with the lenders. The responsibility aspect is important because if the spouse responsible is unable or unwilling to pay the amount and the contract hasn’t been modified by the lender, the late payments still will appear on both credit reports and will have a negative impact on the credit scores of both spouses.
Maintaining a civil and communicative relationship during the divorce process can help you avoid the negative impact on actions against your credit. Another option is before the divorce, contacting the creditor or lender directly, in an attempt to explore any options you might have in the situation.
In a constant struggle between public information and personal privacy, divorce records can only tell the legal story of a marriage and its end, but it doesn’t define the relationship. While it may impact aspects of life moving forward after the divorce, it’s not something to fret over. Like most legal documents, the amount of interaction you will have with them will be minimal and will only come up when they’re needed.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.