Given the increased concern that people have over personal privacy and fear of identity theft, experts often recommend shredding documents that contain sensitive information, to attempt to keep these valuable records out of thieves' hands. Though you may know to include credit card statements among those heading to the shredder, it can be confusing to know whether to dispose of divorce documents.
What should you shred?
Experts recommend you shred all monthly credit card statements and bank documents, as they contain valuable data for potential thieves and do not need to hang around your house. Additionally, you should shred old receipts containing your signature, banking information, and anything that has your Social Security number, insurance forms, credit card offers, and even tax documents that are more than seven years old.
What should you keep?
While privacy is an important concern, there are some pieces of paperwork that should always be maintained. Examples include birth certificates, death certifications, marriage certificates, Social Security cards, estate-planning documents (such as wills, powers of attorney, etc.), loan paperwork, and military discharge papers. All of these can prove to be critically important and should not be banished to the shredder.
What about divorce documents?
Something that many people fail to consider is their divorce paperwork. Depending on how long or involved your case was, you could potentially have boxes full of information, including motions, responses, replies, and discovery. Though Divorce Decrees are important documents, many people simply fail to understand how unnecessary much of the remaining divorce paperwork actually is.
All that anyone needs to know after your divorce is complete is that the marriage itself ended and that a judge signed off on it. As a result, be sure to keep a copy of your actual Divorce Decree, which has the date of the divorce and the judge's signature. Of course, you should also keep your parenting agreement in the event of a dispute with your ex, and there might even be times where financial questions could be resolved by flipping through your divorce settlement agreement.
Divorce documents are often painful and contain a lot of sad details involving child custody, financial division, and personal wrongdoing. If you feel burdened by that box of information, know that you don't need to keep it around your house forever. Consider shredding it (except the documents referenced above) and move on. Realize that as these are public documents they can all be accessed again in the future at the Clerk of Court if you ever need to find them.