After you get married, you need a copy of your marriage certificate for many reasons.  Changing your name on your driver’s license, passport, credit cards, and other places typically requires proof of your name change, which a copy of your marriage license can provide.  If you are filing for divorce, you may be wondering whether you need a copy of your marriage certificate.  After all, is the court going to waste time hearing your divorce case if they don’t have proof that you were married in the first place?  The Ventura, CA divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth discuss whether you need your marriage license to file for divorce and answer other questions about keeping a copy of your marriage certificate after divorce.

Do I Need a Copy of My Marriage License When Filing for Divorce?

When you file for divorce, there is quite a bit of paperwork to fill out.  Like most official processes and court filings, there are certain forms the court needs to see before your case is officially “filed.”  You also need to “serve” these papers on your spouse, giving them official notice of the divorce case.  Typically, your marriage license or marriage certificate is not needed during this process.

The paperwork you file with the court includes a lot of information.  First of all, the court needs the name of the person filing the divorce forms in case there are any problems with the forms.  If your Ventura or Santa Barbara divorce attorney is filing for you, they will fill this part out.  Next, the court needs the names of the parties – you (the “petitioner”) and your spouse (the “respondent”).  Your form will also ask questions about whether you have a marriage or domestic partnership, whether you meet the requirements to file for divorce in California, where you live, how many kids you have, whether you are filing for divorce or legal separation, and other questions about your divorce case.

One of the important things the court asks on this form is when you were married.  Most people remember their wedding date, but if you have a memory lapse or want to double check to make sure you put the right date, your marriage certificate will have the date of marriage listed.  Otherwise, there is typically no need to produce your marriage certificate or attach a copy of your marriage license to your divorce paperwork.

However, it is a good idea to have this paperwork just in case.  If there is any doubt about whether the marriage was properly formed in the first place, your marriage license will be an important source of answers.  If the marriage certificate was lost or destroyed, you can typically file to get a certified copy from the courthouse in the county or state where you were married.

Should I Keep My Marriage License After Divorce?

Birth certificates, Social Security cards, marriage licenses, and other official paperwork for your life are good things to keep safe.  If you have the space to do so, you should keep a copy of your marriage license or marriage certificate even after you get divorced.  Along with this, it is important to keep a certified copy of the divorce papers – especially the finalized order of divorce signed by the judge.

If you changed your name when you got married, you are likely familiar with government agencies, banks, and other institutions requesting a certified copy of your marriage license to change your name.  The process for reversing a name change is similar, and your finalized divorce order is typically required to get the Social Security Administration, the DMV, or your bank to change your name back on your Social Security card, your driver’s license, or your credit cards.  If there are any questions about how your name changed in the first place or what your maiden name was, your marriage certificate will show that information.

If you want to get remarried, having this paperwork will also be important.  When you apply for a marriage license with your new fiancé(e), the court will typically ask if you’ve been married before and ask for proof of the divorce.  If they ask for proof of the previous marriage, you will also need a copy of your marriage certificate, so you should keep both documents.

If your marriage lasted long enough, you might also be able to collect Social Security on your former spouse’s record.  Even after divorce, this could help you get retirement or disability benefits.  You may need your marriage certificate as proof of your previous marriage, so keeping this document might be vital if you intend on using any of these benefits.

Talk to a lawyer about what documents you should keep from your divorce case.  Your lawyer can help you understand what paperwork you might need and what records you should keep to help protect your rights and make things easier when you apply for government programs, certain benefits, or name changes later.

Call Our Ventura, CA Divorce Lawyers for a Free Legal Consultation

If you are considering filing for divorce, you likely do not need your marriage certificate to file the case and get the divorce granted – but you should still keep this paperwork.  Along with a certified copy of the divorce decree, you may need these papers later in life.  For help filing for divorce and making sure that all of your paperwork is in order, contact the Ventura family law attorneys at the Law Offices of Bamieh and De Smeth today at (805) 643-5555.