3 Reasons Why You Might Need a Copy of Your Divorce Decree

More often than not, divorce is a pretty messy business. It can cause both financial and emotional stress on the parties involved and, in some instances, can stretch out for lengthy periods of time. Once everything is finalized and the papers have been signed, you’d think that’s the end of it, right? However, there are a few scenarios in which you’ll want to have a copy of your divorce decree handy. It can make certain processes that much smoother and save you from headaches down the road.


This is one of the most common reasons why some individuals obtain copies of their divorce decree. Most states need to verify that you’re truly divorced and not simply separated from your spouse. If you choose to remarry, you’ll need to present a copy of your divorce decree when you apply for a new marriage license. This is due, in part, to the fact that “bigamy” is legally prohibited in many states—meaning that it’s illegal to be married to more than one person. While you’d think that there would be easier ways of verifying your divorce, having divorce records on hand is the simplest way to get yourself back down the aisle.

Refinancing a Home

If your divorce proceeds favorably and you’re able to retain ownership of your marital home, it’s more likely than not that you’ll have to refinance the home to remove your former spouse’s name from the mortgage, as well as their obligation to pay. Whether you’re going through a bank or are looking into refinancing with the help of hard money lenders, it’s important to have your divorce decree handy as it will assist preparers in handling the necessary paperwork. This is because there have been instances of spouses trying to gain ownership of a home without being presently divorced which starts to get into some very murky legal territory.

Depending on your unique situation, your lender may want to review the agreement of your marriage settlement to determine whether or not there are specific terms that need to be met prior to approving a loan. If you’re confused about your marriage settlement or are unsure of whether there are terms attached, it’s best to review the documents with your legal counsel. This helps you avoid any legal or financial missteps that could have negative repercussions.

Regain Your Maiden Name

This is another fairly regular occurrence following a divorce. Many former spouses want to detach themselves from all indicators of their past marriage and that usually starts with the last name. You’ll need to present your divorce decree to a judge and then answer some questions about your intentions regarding the name change. Often, a judge wants to determine whether you’re changing your name to avoid creditors, criminal charges, or outstanding debts. Typically, this isn’t the case for most people. Once a judge has assessed your case and found that your request is appropriate, they’ll sign paperwork confirming the divorce judgment, including the full name you wish to use.

With that in hand, you can then go to your local Social Security Administration to begin the official name change process. You’ll also have to go to the DMV to get an updated license and if you currently hold a passport, that will need to be updated as well. You may even need your divorce decree to change your name on credit cards and utility statements, though this will vary on a case-by-case basis.

In the long run, holding onto a copy of your divorce decree can only benefit you. From navigating tricky legal processes to regaining your independence, it’s a handy document that can speed up certain processes.