How to Obtain Divorce Certificates?
If you have been divorced, you may not realize it, but there are many times after a divorce where you need a copy of your certificate to prove your identity, name change or marital status. The process varies a bit by state, but there is a general rule of thumb to use when obtaining a copy of your divorce decree.
Your divorce decree not only validates separation from your spouse, but it also details things like child custody and support, the division of assets and other decisions made at the time of the divorce. Typically the divorce decree itself will contain the following information:
- Your full name.
- The full name of your ex-spouse.
- The location of your marriage.
- Where you were divorced.
- The date of your divorce.
- Reason for the divorce.
- Number of children.
- Division of assets.
- Alimony support.
- Custody and child support agreements.
In some cases, you can request to have your divorce records sealed from the public. The sealing of records is done to protect a child’s identity, in a domestic violence situation or to protect sensitive information.
Court Clerk’s Office
The first place to go for a copy of your divorce certificate is the court clerk’s office where your divorce was filed. By law, each office has to keep records for a period, generally ten years. You should bring the case number with you and your ID. If you were not personally involved in the divorce, you might need a notarized authorization from one of the parties to obtain a copy.
Department of Vital Records
If the court clerk’s office no longer has a copy of your divorce decree, you can check with the department of vital records in your county. Each county has a records office, and you can search online to find the location of yours. If you were not one of the parties involved in the divorce but need a copy of one, you will have to have a signed affidavit before they release it to you.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has copies of all vital records. You can search for and obtain your divorce certificate by visiting their website.
Attorney or Mediator
If you cannot visit any of the offices listed above or have an unusual circumstance, you can contact your original attorney or mediator that handled your divorce, and they can use their legal channels to obtain a copy for you. They may even have a copy on-hand as they too are required by law to keep copies for several years. You may also need to get written permission from your ex-spouse if your attorney does not have the file, but theirs does. You might pay more for a copy using an attorney or mediator, but they should be able to help you.
There are dozens of search tools online where you can search for and request copies or at least find locations where copies of divorce records are kept.
How to Obtain Divorce Certificates in Your State?
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia