Divorce Records

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Divorce records are documents which certify the legal end to a marriage. Divorce certificates are granted by a court of the state in which the marriage took place, and can only be obtained through divorce proceedings.

Until the state grants a divorce or dissolution of marriage, both parties are still considered legally married despite any separation agreement they may have. Once a divorce certificate is issued, each party is free to marry again.

There are also marriage annulments, which dissolve the marriage just like a divorce but also legally allow the parties to claim they were never married in the first place.

Unless the court agrees to file the divorce “under seal,” then all the information about a divorce becomes part of the public record.

When is a divorce granted?

A judge grants a divorce when both parties appear in court to seek an end to the marriage. Spouses don't have to agree with each other to get a divorce. If one party wants to end the marriage, he or she can force the other to appear in court, and the judge may end that marriage.

During the divorce proceedings, attorneys argue on behalf of both parties about how to divide the property, possessions, and financial savings that the parties obtained during the marriage. They also argue about child custody.

There are many reasons why a judge could rule for a divorce, including sexual harassment, alcoholism, desertion, adultery, domestic violence, or the imprisonment of one of the spouses.

There is also a “no-fault divorce,” which allows the couple to get divorced without any of the major problems previously listed, for reasons such as irreconcilable differences or a general breakdown of the marriage.

It’s up to the attorneys to provide reasonable arguments why the marriage should be allowed to end and what each spouse should receive after the divorce, which is considered part of the divorce settlement. The resolution of any child custody issues also occurs during the divorce proceedings.

What does a divorce certificate show?

Since divorce certificates are considered a vital record, they contain significant personal information including both parties’ names, where the marriage took place, where and on which date the divorce was granted, the reason for the divorce, and the number of children involved (if any).

The divorce certificate may also list the division of property and any alimony or child support responsibilities. The parties can argue for their divorce records to be sealed, which the judge may grant if it involves a child’s identity, the identity of a domestic abuse victim or proprietary information regarding any business in which either spouse may be involved.

If the records are sealed, they're no longer accessible to the public. The court will not automatically move to seal the divorce records since it’s up to the parties to request such an action.

The judge will consider the damage that may be caused by leaving divorce information in the public records and make a decision in the best interests of everyone involved.

Why are divorce records important?

Divorce records are usually used for either changing a name or getting remarried. To legally change a name, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires that a new social security card is created to display the new name and updated information.

So, along with a record of the person’s current name, the SSA will need to see birth certificates as well as other legal documents including divorce records.

Most states also require a copy of the official divorce records to be presented for a remarriage. This mandate prevents the possibility of being married to multiple people at the same time.

Finally, some states require divorce records to obtain or renew a driver’s license or state identification card. The Department of Motor Vehicles may want to follow the paper trail that leads to your current legal name, and the divorce certificate is an important step in that process.

Where can I find divorce records?

If the divorce certificate is a matter of public record, then there are several ways to obtain a copy. Both parties should receive an original copy of the divorce certificate once a divorce is finalized. It’s best to keep this copy with other important documents for easy access should the need arise.

You can also ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about your state’s official policies and information on obtaining vital records.

The more information you have, the better your chances of finding the divorce records quickly without too many problems arising.

Still, the quickest and easiest way to obtain divorce certificates and other vital records is a leading online provider.

The best way to find divorce records

If you're looking for a divorce record that isn't your own, you will need to have as much information as possible about the parties involved.

This information should include names and maiden names, birth dates, and death records of one or both of the parties, as well as addresses and any legal history you can find.

You may also get a divorce certificate from the courthouse in the county where the divorce took place. The courthouse keeps vital records like divorce certificates for a long time, and this is the easiest and surest way to obtain a certified copy.

If you're unable to go to the courthouse, then you may be able to order a copy online.

If you work with the right platform, you can obtain copies of vital records including marriage certificates.