How to Find Your Divorce Records
When a divorce is finalized by the court system, the court proceedings are documented and stored in a divorce court record. While the precise contents of a divorce court record will vary from state to state, divorce records will generally contain the paperwork that was filed at every step of the divorce as well as the details of the settlement. Divorce records are public records that can easily be accessed by any member of the community. While the physical divorce record itself is maintained at the local courthouse, some of the information contained within the record can be accessed online.
Many people do not realize just how accessible public records are. In most jurisdictions, any citizen can walk into their local court and request to view the divorce record of a family member, friend or total stranger with no questions asked. While this sort of transparency is critical to maintaining a just and fair judicial system, it does open the door for some potentially embarrassing breeches of privacy. In many parts of the country, it is possible for a person to locate a divorce record simply by searching the databases of the different county court systems over the internet. Some district courts offer more public records online than others, but a growing number of districts provide the core data of the divorce record online.
Some individuals become confused with the difference between a divorce court record and a divorce certificate. Unlike divorce records, a certificate of divorce is not maintained by the state court system. Instead, divorce certificates are stored and issued by each state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. The Bureau of Vital Statistics is responsible for maintaining the legal documentation of a state’s citizens, such as birth certificates, death certificates and marriage certificates. This bureau is also responsible for providing replacement copies of official certificates, and an official divorce certificate can be obtained from these offices once the divorce has been finalized. The Bureau of Vital Statistics usually requires proof of identification and the payment of a small fee before they will procure a new copy of a divorce record for an individual.