Documents to Keep after Your Divorce

Divorce is a difficult process, and the last thing many want to consider is what legal documents or other documents to keep after the divorce.  Although many are tempted to discard all traces of their marital records, it is important to retain many of those documents.  Rather than trash the paper trail that you have built up to this point of your life, save the documents and find a system to help make them easily available when necessary.  While attorneys advise against destroying any important documentation, the following are crucial documents that you should preserve after your divorce. 

  1. Last Will and Testament

An updated last will and testament should be executed after the divorce decree, however if you have not had the chance to complete the process, retain your current will.  As mentioned in previous blog posts, it is important to have an up-to-date will and to update the document any time there is a major life change.  This is especially important should you have sole custody of your children.  Your last will and testament is the document that is an instruction manual once you are gone.   This is the place to address issues like guardianship of minor children, property division, and donations you wish to have made in your name.  A divorce counts as a major life change that triggers will revision. A Dublin, Ohio divorce attorney can help you understand the challenges you would face without an updated will.

  1. Life Insurance Paperwork

As mentioned above, divorce signals a time to change many important documents.  This includes your insurance policy.  If you or your spouse has a life insurance policy listing each other as the beneficiary, it is time to contact the insurance company and make a change.  Unlike your will, the insurance company won’t look to see if there has been a divorce decree.  The company will pay out on the policy as directed in the documentation.  Be sure to retain a copy of the life insurance policy if you are listed as your ex-spouse’s beneficiary, as you are entitled to the benefits as long as you are listed as the beneficiary.  If time comes to collect on the policy, and your former spouse has not yet changed the beneficiary, you are entitled to the policy proceeds.

On the other hand, be sure to change the beneficiary of your life insurance policy to reflect your new marital status.  Should you fail to do so, your ex-spouse will collect on the event of your death.  A divorce attorney in Dublin, Ohio can help walk you through all the documents that will need revision after the divorce.  It’s important to have a trusted advocate on your side to advise you during these challenging times.

  1. Copies of Checks, Money Orders, or Other Payment Documentation

Retain copies or receipts of payments if you are receiving child support or spousal support from your ex-spouse.  Attorneys suggest you receive the payments in check form to allow for a paper trail of the payments.  However, if your ex-spouse insists on paying in cash, you should make a record of the payment by providing him or her with a receipt.   Log all these payments using either a notepad, or track the money using spreadsheet program.  If payments are decreasing, increasing, or are just infrequent, it is important to have the evidence to back that up.  Should you find yourself in trouble financially due to unpaid child support, you should contact a Dublin, Ohio divorce attorney to help you get the support you deserve.

  1. Marriage License

Your marriage license is still an important legal document, even after the court issues a divorce decree.  As tempting as it may be to destroy the document once your divorce is finalized, you will need it to seek certain benefits.  If you and your ex-spouse were married for more than 10 years, then you are entitled to your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits.  To collect the benefits, you will need to contact the Social Security Administration and provide information about the length of your marriage and your divorce decree, all with the requisite documents.  Working with a divorce attorney can help save you the hassle of remembering the specifics.  Your attorney will remind you what documents need to be retained and how to best store the original documents.

  1. Settlement Agreement, Child Support Order, and Divorce Decree

Keeping a copy of the settlement agreement, child support order, and divorce degree is crucial.  This is true especially if you have to seek court support to enforce any part of the final divorce decree or child support order.  Much like retaining financial records of payments from your former spouse, the original documents will help substantiate any claim for breach of agreement between you and your ex.  When you hire an advocate to represent you during the divorce process, your divorce attorney will remind you which documents should be kept safe for future use.

In addition to the aforementioned documents, you should always keep a copy of any court documents after the divorce.  Again as tempting as it may be to celebrate the conclusion of the divorce proceedings with a ceremonial burning of the documents, attorneys recommend you retain all court documents.  Speak with your divorce attorney about which documents he or she will keep on file, and which you are expected to keep in your own records.

Finally, when the divorce has been finalized, it may come time to move. Make sure you know where these documents are at all times during a move.  Treat the documents as you would your wallet.  If you find yourself moving from location to location without a stable or secure place to store your legal documents, consider a safety deposit box at a local bank.  The cost will be offset by the peace of mind you have knowing the legal documents are safe.  It is often best to find the right firm to represent you as your divorce attorney. Dublin, Ohio attorneys Edward F. Whipps & Associates can help guide you through this uncertain time.

Finding the right advocate is important, that is why it is best to find a divorce attorney close to home.  Here at Edward F. Whipps & Associates, we want you to know you don’t have tackle this all on your own.  Although divorce can be daunting hiring the right attorneys can reduce the stress of navigating through the process.  With over 30 years of experience and a unique understanding of psychology and it’s role in the process, the attorneys at Edward F. Whipps & Associates are well equipped to maximize your results with the most efficient and respectful legal approaches.