How Long To Keep Divorce Papers: 7 Strong Reasons to Keep

How long to keep divorce papers? Although there is no definitive answer as to how long you should retain your divorce papers, it is strongly advised that they be kept for a few years at least. Even if you can save it forever, it is also beneficial. 

Navigating through the process of a divorce can be overwhelming, and when it’s all said and done, you may find yourself in possession of a pile of legal documents and be unsure about what to do with them. While it may be tempting to get rid of all the reminders of a chapter you would rather forget, keeping hold of your divorce papers is essential. This article highlights seven reasons why you should keep these documents indefinitely.

How Long To Keep Divorce Papers

How long to keep divorce papers?

There is no mandated time for keeping divorce papers in the. However, it is recommended that you retain them for a few years at a minimum. But I suggest keeping them forever.

One reason for retaining divorce papers is that they are important legal documents that may be needed for future reference. For instance, you may need to produce them to apply for a loan, file taxes, or other legal matters. In addition, keeping the papers can help to prove points about issues such as alimony and child support. I know a case, where a mother was lying with fake documents to get child custody. The father could prove this with the original divorce documents.

Furthermore, some states have a waiting period before a divorce is finalized. You may need to access the divorce papers to make crucial decisions or complete other legal documents during this time. 

It is worth noting that retaining divorce papers is especially important if you have children. In case of disagreements about custody or support in the future, having the divorce papers can be essential evidence to refer to.

7 Reasons to Keep Divorce Papers for Forever

Keeping hold of your divorce papers is essential for a variety of reasons. For starters, it’s important to note that divorces are never indeed finalized. As time passes by and life changes, those documents may need to be referred back to in the future. In some cases, this means having access to legal documents such as divorce decrees to make adjustments or prove that a divorce was indeed granted.

#1. Legal proof:

Divorce papers serve as definitive legal proof of the dissolution of a marriage. Holding onto these documents ensures that you have the necessary evidence to confirm your marital status, particularly in situations where there may be disputes or confusion. For instance, there may be instances where one party denies the divorce or the validity of the divorce is questioned due to discrepancies in jurisdiction or procedural matters. In such cases, the divorce papers act as the official, irrefutable confirmation of the marital separation.

If you ever need to prove that a divorce was granted, having access to the documents is essential. This may be necessary for remarriage, adjusting financial standings, or child custody and support agreements. In such cases, having the original document available is better than relying on a copy or other non-legally binding evidence. 

#2. Life changes:

Access to divorce records can be helpful in life changes requiring proof of certain legal status. This might include filling out job applications, renting or buying property, or investing in retirement accounts. In such cases, employers, landlords, and financial institutions may request to see official documents confirming that you are legally divorced before they can move forward with business dealings.

Additionally, having your divorce papers on hand is beneficial when considering a new marriage or other form of partnership. Different jurisdictions may have varying requirements for when and how the former union must be legally terminated. Sometimes, having an official decree can help speed up the process and ensure all legal requirements are met.

Finally, divorce papers may also be needed regarding financial matters such as taxes or alimony payments. Having the documents available allows you to legally confirm any financial obligations from the original settlement agreement and helps protect your rights should a dispute arise.

Safeguarding your divorce papers is an essential step in protecting your legal rights and interests, so store them in a safe place where they can be easily accessed should the need arise. In general, it is recommended that you keep all divorce records indefinitely.

Access to the divorce documents is also essential if either party wishes to modify or terminate any provisions of the original agreement like child custody and phone calls. All changes should be documented and agreed upon in writing before being made legally binding, so having access to your divorce papers is vital for making sure everyone involved is on the same page. 

#3. Tax implications:

In addition to the practical implications, keeping your divorce papers may also be beneficial when filing taxes. Certain tax deductions or credits may be available to you depending on the terms of the settlement agreement. To ensure you don’t miss out on these potential benefits, keeping all records associated with the divorce in a safe place is essential.

Also, depending on the jurisdiction where you were divorced, other tax implications may require specific documents to verify. Having your divorce papers on hand makes accounting for all applicable taxes easier and avoids potential penalties or fines for incorrect filings. Therefore, keeping all your divorce papers indefinitely is essential to a complete financial record. 

#4 Child custody and support:

Divorce documents are also important when it comes to the care of your children. Keeping these documents safe can ensure that any parenting plans or agreements regarding support for the children are enforced and followed. This is especially important if there are any changes to the original agreement over time, as referencing the settlement document helps avoid potential disputes.

Access to your divorce papers may be necessary when applying for child-related benefits or services such as education, healthcare, or welfare assistance. Your divorce papers provide evidence of your legal rights and responsibilities as a parent and may be necessary to approve certain benefits.

#5. Alimony or spousal support:

Divorce papers are also important when it comes to spousal support. Keeping these documents safe can help ensure that any agreements regarding spousal payments or alimony are enforced and followed. This is especially important if there are any changes to the original agreement over time, as referencing the settlement document helps avoid potential disputes.

For those granted spousal support, keeping your divorce papers is also important for tax filing. Payments made as alimony or spousal support are typically deductible from the payer’s taxable income and are taxable to the recipient. It is important to reference your divorce documents when preparing taxes to take advantage of any potential deductions. 

#6. Property and asset division:

Divorce papers are also important when it comes to property and asset division after divorce. Keeping these documents safe can help ensure that any agreements regarding the allocation of assets or debts between spouses are enforced and followed. This is especially important if there are any changes to the original agreement over time, as referencing the settlement document helps avoid potential disputes.

In some cases, an asset or property may not be completely divided. In cases where a former spouse is still entitled to assets such as income from investments, keeping the divorce papers on hand can help ensure that any payments are made according to the agreement. Having these documents handy also helps if one party wants to change the settlement agreement in the future.

#7. Estate planning:

Divorce papers are also important when it comes to estate planning. Keeping these documents safe can help ensure that any agreements regarding the allocation of assets or debts between spouses are enforced and followed in the event of one spouse’s death. It is also important to reference your divorce documents if you want to update an existing will or create a new one, as this will ensure that any changes align with the agreement. 

Divorce documents that you need to keep:

“What documents should I keep after my divorce?” There are several types of divorce documents that you should keep safely stored:

  1. Divorce decree: This is the final judgment from the court that officially declares the end of your marriage. It includes all the terms of your divorce and is a legally binding document.
  2. Marital settlement agreement: This is an important document that outlines all the terms of the property division, child custody, alimony, and any other agreements between you and your former spouse.
  3. Child custody and visitation order: If you have children, this document outlines the court’s custody arrangement and visitation schedule.
  4. Alimony order: If one party is to receive alimony, this document will outline the amount and duration of those payments.
  5. Qualified domestic relations order (QDRO): This court order allows for the division of retirement benefits and is crucial for future reference.
  6. Name change order: If one party decides to revert to their maiden name or change their name post-divorce, this order legally authorizes the name change.

Remember that these documents are essential legal records. Keeping them in a secure location, such as a safe deposit box, ensures they’re protected and accessible when needed.

If you lost your divorce papers:

“What to do if you lose divorce papers?”

Losing divorce papers can be stressful and confusing, but you can take steps to obtain a copy. In the United States, divorce records are typically maintained at the county level where the divorce took place. To obtain a copy of your divorce papers, you can contact the clerk of courts in the county where the divorce was finalized. You will likely be required to provide identification and pay a fee for the copy. 

If you are unsure of the county where the divorce took place, you can try searching online databases or state archives for divorce records. You may also consider hiring a private investigator to help locate the necessary information.

You may also want to consider hiring a lawyer or mediator to help you get new documents, especially if the divorce was contested and there were complex issues to resolve. A lawyer can advise on the best course for replacing lost or damaged divorce papers and offer legal advice and support during this time.

Do you know what to do after receiving divorce papers? The most important thing is that divorce paper doesn’t expire. So, it may need any time in the future. However, I am pretty sure, the below discussion will be helpful:

Some FAQs on How Long Should You Keep Divorce Papers?

Where should I keep my divorce papers?

Once you have obtained copies of your divorce papers, it’s important to keep them in a safe place. It’s wise to store the original documents and any other related paperwork, like settlement agreements and court orders, in an area secure from theft or damage. This may include a safety deposit box or filing cabinet within your home.

It’s also a good idea to make copies of the documents and store them in an alternative location, such as with a family member or trusted friend. This will ensure you can access the paperwork even if something happens to the originals.

You may use online file storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive to store digital copies of your divorce documents. However, if you are considering this option, it’s important to use strong passwords and other security measures to protect the files from being accessed by unauthorized parties. 

How to obtain divorce papers?

The overall process for obtaining divorce papers depends on the court that issued them. Generally, if you need a replacement or copy of divorce papers, contacting the court where the decree was initially filed is best. They will be able to advise on their specific procedure and what documents are required to obtain a new copy.

In some cases, the court may be able to provide you with a copy of your divorce papers online, while in other cases, they may require you to submit a written request. Additionally, there could be fees associated with obtaining new documents, so it’s best to check with the court beforehand.

If you cannot obtain copies from the court or the original documents have been lost, you can also contact a lawyer or other professional service to help you obtain the necessary documents. They may be able to assist by filing a petition in court and requesting new copies on your behalf. 

Can I shred my divorce papers?

“Does It Make Sense to Shred Divorce Documents?”

No – keeping your divorce papers safe is important as they are legally binding documents that may need to be referenced later. If you no longer wish to keep them, it’s best practice to contact the court that issued the original document for proper disposal. They will advise appropriately based on local rules and regulations.

Additionally, if any financial settlements or other orders were made in the divorce, you must keep these records in case of future disputes. In short, shredding your divorce papers is not recommended as it could have legal consequences and make resolving any potential post-divorce issues difficult. If you dispose of them, follow the court’s advice for proper disposal.

Keeping a copy of the divorce decree in an area, such as your safety deposit box, can also be helpful in case any copies are misplaced or destroyed. This will ensure you have a document available should it ever be needed. 

Do you need divorce papers to remarry?

In the United States, if you want to remarry after being divorced, you will typically need to provide divorce papers as part of the process. Depending on your state’s laws, this could include submitting a copy of your final divorce decree issued by the court or presenting a divorce certificate.

Many states will also require additional documentation, such as proof that all debts have been paid off and documents confirming that any alimony or child support is up-to-date. Like this man, if you grieve your divorce even after 3 years of divorce and now want to remarry your ex, this divorce paper will be needed.

Once all the necessary paperwork has been submitted and any fees have been paid, you can receive a marriage license to remarry. Therefore, ensuring that you obtain the appropriate divorce documents is an important step in being able to get married again in the U.S.

Can I get a copy of my marriage certificate after the divorce?

Sure, you can get a copy of your marriage certificate from the same county clerk’s office that issued it when you initially got married. Depending on the state, there may be a fee associated with this service, and some fees may even vary county by county within the same state.

In most states, obtaining a copy of your marriage certificate will require filling out an application form, going through and signing an affidavit, and providing additional documents such as proof of identity and other credentials so they can verify your identity before they issue the document.

Additionally, depending on the state in which you were married and divorced, there may be other specific requirements or processes in place for getting a duplicate marriage certificate after divorce.

Final Point:

I think you got the answer to the question: how long to keep divorce papers? Having access to divorce papers is essential for many reasons. It can provide evidence in the event of any legal disputes and can also help protect your rights and finances.

Therefore, retain all documentation related to your divorce to ensure that you have access when needed. It may save you time and money in the long run.

Having your divorce papers on hand can also help to provide peace of mind knowing that should any issues arise, you are prepared with all pertinent information. This can be invaluable in helping you move forward with your life after a divorce.

About Shakir Ahmed

Head of the editorial team. I hold a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from UoL. Written hundreds of articles on divorce, child custody, employment and other human rights law topics for blogs and websites worldwide. Worked 6 years as a relationship development trainer. For any communication regarding any legal matter, please feel free to email me at

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