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What steps are required to obtain a court order establishing marital status at the time of my husbands death?

My mother-in-law misinformed the funeral home by stating on my husband’s death certificate that we was divorced. We are not on the best of terms and she refuses to go to the funeral home and sign a request to amend the death certificate. She is doing this out of spite because my husband and I were separated (he was a violent and abusive alcoholic). and he was living with her at the time of his death. I am sorry, but my son’s safety was my #1 priority. It was not a healthy environment for either my son or myself.

I was just contacted by the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Insurance Dept. that they are holding money that I am entitled to claim as his surviving spouse. Unfortunately, I need to get the death certificate amended to reflect that we were married at the time of his death. The Office of Vital Records suggested that I contact the court and request a certified copy of a court order establishing our marital status at the time of my husband’s death. It also said that I may want to contact an attorney. Unfortunately, I am a disabled widow on SSI and can’t afford to pay an attorney for advice. I’m sure that once I know where to go and what to do that I can fill out and file the necessary documents.

Please help me with as much information as possible to enable me to complete this task without the need for a lawyer. I live in Porterville, California and need to know which court to contact to accomplish this task.

Thanking you in advance for your most valuable time and assistance.


  1. xxx000au
    March 15th, 2011 at 18:59 | #1

    If you divorced there will be records of that divorce.

    I cant help but feel that you are being selective in what your saying here.
    If you have the death certificate or a copy, make a claim. They will look at the claim and raise the issue of divorced. Explain your story and they will investigate. Which is to say they will search court records for a divorce. The mother in law seems to think she knows it all so why not have them ask her when and where you two divorced. That will speed up the process as they can focus their search in that area.
    References :

  2. Kimberly
    March 15th, 2011 at 19:48 | #2

    A quick glance at the Tulare County Superior Court website shows that they have self-help centers, though most appear to deal with family court issues.

    I would call the courthouse and see if they have a self-help set-up for your type of issue and figure out which department you would need to file the request for orders through. My guess would be probate, but I’m not 100% sure.
    References :

  3. Ben
    March 15th, 2011 at 20:26 | #3
  4. Jenny Manyteeth
    March 15th, 2011 at 20:39 | #4

    Consult an attorney.
    References :

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