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Wright County News

Posted on: July 9, 2020

REAL ID Causing Issues for Recorder's Office Due to Documentation Confusion

With all requirements and associated headaches with the implementation of REAL ID and enhanced driver’s licenses, the situation has become more complicated for people who have changed their name over the course of their lives – typically women who have been married or divorced.

This problem has taken on a different level in Wright County, since residents have been contacting Wright County Recorder Tanya West in recent weeks about getting certified copies of divorce decrees.

Why is that a problem? The Recorder’s office has nothing to do with documenting divorces.

“I’m not sure why this began happening, but we’ve been getting a lot of calls recently about getting divorce decrees,” West said. “The only thing I can imagine is that, because we record marriage license applications and certificates that we also record divorce decrees. We don’t and never have. That is done through Court Administration because a divorce is a legal proceeding.”

The issue with REAL ID is that one needs to provide significant documentation to get approved. Anyone looking to renew their licenses with REAL 1D needs to provide four forms of identification. One is a document proving identity, date of birth and legal U.S. presence (birth certificate, passport, etc.). One document has to prove a social security number (your original social security card, W2 tax form, etc.) Two documents must prove Minnesota residency (current driver’s license, income tax return, credit card statement, utility bill, etc.).

However, someone who has changed their name due to marriage and has subsequently been divorced, they need to provide a divorce decree document. That become a problem if they need to get a certified copy of the decree.

Wright County Court Administrator Monica Tschumper said that, while her office can provide divorce decrees, unless you were divorced in Wright County through the Tenth Judicial District, any copy she would provide wouldn’t qualify under REAL ID requirements.

“They can get copies of divorce decrees from any county, as long as it’s a plain copy,” Tschumper said. “A certified copy would need to be obtained from the county of venue.”

The hope is that, before someone makes an appointment at the Wright County License Bureau to get REAL ID, they have all the proper documentation. If they don’t have all of the required documents, there isn’t a “pause button” on the application. Without all applicable documents, REAL ID licenses can’t be processed.

If there is a positive about the requirements of REAL ID it’s that, despite the headaches of making sure all documentation is in place, once you get REAL ID, you won’t have to repeat the process again when renewing a license.

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