Skip to main content

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

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.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 5


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.


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.


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. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!


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 only to clients who have retained the firm in writing. New York ethics rules for attorneys and the rules of the Appellate Division require an written engagement letter or retainer agreement for all matters anticipated to exceed $3,000 in legal fees.


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.

Wills and estates topics

Recommended articles about Wills and estates

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer