Learn How to Locate a Divorce Record
Getting a divorce is not as simple as cutting up your wedding certificate. It requires one or both parties to petition the courts for a divorce decree. Once the parties have come to an agreement or the judge issues his judgment, the divorce is finalized, and both parties receive a certified divorce certificate. This certificate serves as proof that the divorce is official. If you have lost your official certificate, or you are looking for information about another person’s divorce, these records are available; you just have to know where to look.
Who Has Access to Divorce Records
Divorce certificates are considered public records, which means that anyone has access to the details within the records. The only exception is if the courts seal some or all of the divorce proceedings. This can happen for a variety of reasons, for example, to protect the names of domestic violence victims or to protect sensitive information, such as financial data. The state of New York is the only state that automatically seals all divorce records for 100 years.
Even if parts of the divorce records are sealed, you typically can still find basic information such as the date when the divorce was finalized. However, it is important to note that only the parties involved in the divorce and their immediate family members (in the case of a death) can request a certified copy of the divorce. Other requestors only receive a copy of the record itself.
Why Someone Might Need Divorce Records
There are several reasons why you might want to request a certified copy of your own divorce records, including:
- You want to change your name.
- You want to get remarried.
- You need proof of visitation schedule for school or police.
- You want to start child support or alimony withholding.
- You need it for income tax purposes.
- You need to transfer property.
- You need it for creditors.
There also are several reasons why you might want to obtain divorce records for another person, such as:
- For probate court after the death of one of the parties in the divorce
- To check marital status of a partner
- For family history
What Information Is on Divorce Records
If you gain access to the complete divorce records, you will have all the information pertaining to the divorce, including the full names and dates of birth of both parties, the county and state they were married in, the county and state they were divorced in, the official date of the divorce, reason for the divorce, and any judgments ordered by the courts, such as child custody, child support, alimony and division of property.
If any portions of the divorce record are sealed, or you are not authorized to gain access to the entire record, you still should be able to find the full names of both parties, the date of the divorce and the county and state where the divorce took place.
How to Find Divorce Records
There are several ways you can find divorce records, but before you start searching, you will need a few pieces of information, including the names of both parties in the divorce, their dates of birth (if available) and the county and/or state where the divorce was finalized.
- Your Attorney: The easiest way to secure a copy of your divorce records is to contact your attorney. All attorneys store these records for many years after the divorce is finalized. Keep in mind that this will only be a copy of the divorce records and not a certified copy.
- County Office: If you know the county and state where the divorce was finalized, you can check with that county’s Clerk of Courts office. You can make this request in person or by phone. Some counties also have an online service that allows you to make this request through its website. You will be required to complete a request form that includes basic information about the divorce, your name and the purpose of the request. You may incur a nominal fee for these services. The county office can provide a certified copy of the divorce certificate to authorized requestors.
- State Vital Records: If you are not sure which county the divorce was finalized in, you can request these records at the state level. You should contact the Department of Vital Records in the state where the divorce took place. This can be done in person, by phone or online. Just like at the county level, you will need to complete a request form that includes all pertinent information and pay the required fee. The state also offers certified copies of the divorce certificate.
- Online Third-Party Site: If you do not need a certified copy, and you want the records as fast as possible, you can use a third-party online website. Typically, you can receive your results within just minutes through the online vendor. SearchQuarry.com is third-party website where you can find divorce records. Search by name to find divorce records online for free with Search Quarry.
- Historical Society: If you are searching for divorce record for genealogy purposes, you should check with the historical society in the county where the divorce took place. These local chapters typically have vital records, such as divorce records, dating back 100 years or more.