Like marriage records, divorce records are available to anyone and are part of the public record. However, unlike marriage records, divorce records are likely to have information that the former couple would rather not share. This might include the names of minor children, financial information and intimate details about problems in the marriage before the split.
Unfortunately for those who would prefer things to remain private, divorce records are automatically available to the public. If a special request is made to the court, information might remain sealed, but only if the judge agrees that withholding the information is necessary. This can be an advantage for anyone seeking information about a divorce.
How to Access Divorce Records for Free
How divorce records can be accessed will depend on where the divorce took place. Some records will be stored at the state level, at the state’s office of vital statistics. Others will be stored at the local level, directly with the courts.
For records stored at an office of vital statistics, they must be ordered. Depending on the state, only certain individuals are allowed to obtain a copy of a divorce decree, such as either spouse or an individual acting under the direction of a court order. Most records obtained from the office of vital statistics will not be free.
Very often, the pertinent local court will be where records can be found. Each local court will have its own procedures for accessing the information. Costs can range from free to a relatively small convenience fee.
Access can also vary, with some courts requiring the searcher to view the details in person, while others will allow full access online. Other courts may allow limited access to information online. This might include access to a divorce process timeline, which includes the initial filing to start the divorce, when the decree is granted, the name of the judge presiding over the case and each party’s attorneys of record.
Easy Way to Find Records
The easiest way to find divorce records is through online access. Depending on how advanced the court is with computerizing its records, as well as applicable laws, many records can be accessed online. But even in these situations, there may be a charge to view the records or only a limited amount of information available. Those who want to read the full document might be required to do so in person.
Another easy way to find divorce records is to search public records via the Internet. Though you might stumble upon information on social media or through a search engine, these methods are probably not going to find official divorce information. However, there are many online public record search services available. Some of these charge a nominal fee to review the information.
Find a Divorce Decree
The specific court documents that set out the terms are usually called a ‘divorce decree.’ Almost all decrees can be found by looking through the court records where the divorce was started and finalized. This will usually be a local or county court in the state where the divorce took place.
However, in order to access a decree, you’ll need more information than just the name of one of the spouses. For example, in order to figure out which court to look into, you will need to know the state, county or even city where the divorce took place. If you happen to know the exact date or range of dates during which the divorce took place, that can help narrow down the results.
If you don’t have this additional information, using an online public records search service will be very helpful. In many cases, you can usually get a very detailed search results with just a name. Of course, the more information you have, the more easily you’ll be able to sort through those search results.
How to Check a Status
If a divorce is ongoing, the best way to find the status will be to check the court records where the divorce is taking place. The court’s records concerning the case are usually updated daily. If a specific record isn’t in the physical file, it’s probably on the judge’s desk or being processed by court administration. Be patient and keep checking back to find more information.