How can I attain a divorce decree from Puerto Rico and do I need a lawyer?

Asked about 1 year ago - Bronx, NY

My mother passed away two years ago and I am trying to collect her retirement benefits. On her death certificate it states that she was divorced. Now my mother was divorced in Puerto Rico years ago before she came to the US. The benefit company is requiring her divorce decree before they can release any funds.

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Edwin Drantivy

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

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    Answered . Yes, retain a lawyer to inquire into Puerto Rico's matrimonial records. It will be easier to find the decree if you know which Court executed the divorce.

  2. Alan James Brinkmeier

    Contributor Level 20

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    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . It is time for a lawyer, not a website, to discuss what claims you may have. AVVO is a free general legal information blog, not a substitute for legal advice. Look for an attorney you would like to have a consultation with. You can use Find a Lawyer tab above, right here in AVVO. Select an attorney, contact them directly and schedule a consultation. You might be glad you did.

  3. Bruce Provda

    Pro

    Contributor Level 13

    6

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    Answered . You need to obtain an attorney that can look into the decrees entered in the Puerto Rico's family court. They should perhaps first start in the county that your mother live in in Puerto Rico. Discuss all of this with an attorney including the benefits you are trying to obtain. The company is just trying to be assured that there are no other beneficiaries out there such as a spouse.

  4. Ian William Maclean

    Contributor Level 11

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . As other attorneys have suggested, you certainly can contact the appropriate court clerk in Puerto Rico and obtain a copy of your mother's divorce decree. It may be a few phone calls and an email or letter a small fee and you're done. There may also be another way to realize your goal. If your mother had a retirement account with death benefits, then the account had a beneficiary designation form. If you mother filled one out, then the person or persons she designated as beneficiaries have a right to the property unless she divorced the person or they predeceased her. If so, then the property either passes to your mother's estate or to whomever the retirement plan contract states is the contingent beneficiary in the case of no designated beneficiary (I have seen plans say surviving spouse and I have seen plans say surviving children). If the contract is silent, then the beneficiary is your mother's estate and you need to get letters of administration or letters testamentary if she had a will. If you do that, you will also need to get an affidavit from a person with personal knowledge of who survived your mother. That affidavit should include a statement as to your mother's marital status - divorced - as well as who her children are/were. The benefit company may take that affidavit instead of a divorce decree. Good luck. - Ian W. MacLean

    This is not legal advice. If you would like legal advice, please contact the firm. The firm offers legal advice... more
  5. James P. Frederick

    Contributor Level 20

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    Answered . If you can locate the court where the divorce was finalized, you should be able to obtain a copy of the judgment and/or property settlement. Of course, this *should* also be available as part of your mother's paperwork, here. A lawyer may not be needed, but could be helpful, especially if you need assistance navigating through the PR courts.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ******... more

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