Where Can I Access Divorce Records?
Are divorce records public information and where can I access them?
Are you wondering whether someone you’ve met is divorced? Do you want to know what the reason behind the divorce was, and what kind of settlement happened? In this article, we run you through everything you need to know about divorce records to help you conduct your research.
Are divorce records public?
In the U.S, divorce records are public. Just like your marriage documents, anyone can have a look at them. It can be hard to know where to find divorce records, as each state organizes them slightly differently. But at the federal level, the vast majority of divorce records are public.
There are only a couple of exceptions, concerning divorces judged to be “sensitive”. These can be “sealed”, meaning that the records can only be accessed by someone with a court order. However, the likelihood of this situation is the case is small.
What can divorce records tell you?
So why may you want to look at someone else’s divorce records? There’s a lot that they can tell you.
For example, divorce records give you the name of the ex-spouse, the year of the marriage and the year of the divorce. They will also give you information on any children born out of this marriage, including their names and when they were born. You will even find more detailed information on the procedure of the divorce: who initiated it and what reason did they give, what settlement was reached, who got custody of the children…
Finally, divorce records can contain some sensitive financial information. They will let you know how much the partners made at the time of divorce, and whether anyone had to pay alimony.
How can you find divorce records?
If you’re wondering “where can I check if someone’s divorced?” you’re in luck. There are actually quite a few different ways that you can do that. For example, you could consult official court websites online. You could go in-person to a vital statistics office. Or you could also use pay-for services that can give you a quicker answer to your question. Let’s have a closer look at your options:
How to find divorce records online
To find divorce records online, it can be as easy as doing a simple Google search. Since the late 90s, all official divorce documents have been archived onto web databases, accessible by anyone. But before you can start looking online whether someone is divorced, you’ll need some basic information on them.
What you will need
The more you know about the person whose divorce records you want to check, the easier it will be to find the documents. The essential information you need to be able to conduct that search is:
- the full name of the person
- where they filed for divorce
- the rough date of the divorce
On some websites, you’ll be able to find people who can help you search for the divorce records even with some pieces of information missing. But for the basic procedure, you will need these details.
Find the court system they used
After you’ve gathered the essential information you need, you’ll have to go on official judicial databases. These don’t exist at country-level for divorce papers, so you’ll need to find the relevant website for the state where the divorce was filed.
Every state has a few judicial circuits, which is the organization that handles divorces. By going onto the official judicial website of a page, you’ll find a guide to different court systems. After you’ve identified the one that’s relevant for you, you can begin to search for information on their website.
To do a search, you’ll need to enter the first and last name of the person whose divorce records you’re looking for. If you know the rough date of the divorce, this will be very useful at this stage, as many people have the same name.
Once you’ve found the right case, you may be able to access the records straight away. This really depends on the state.
If you’re not able to see the divorce records, you’ll at least be able to see the case number. With that number, you can contact the course and place a request to consult the official records.
Alternative: using online databases
There are a few online databases that can make it easier for you to find divorce records. With just the name of the person, state, and city, you’ll be able to find the records you’re looking for. Unfortunately though, you’ll probably have to pay in order to be able to actually consult them.
If you’re looking for a faster way to consult someone’s divorce records, this can actually be a good method. Just be careful of websites that advertise providing that service for free: there are often some hidden fees that can be a bit tricky to notice.
How to find divorce records offline
If you don’t feel comfortable going online to consult someone’s divorce records, you might be able to do it in person. For that, you’ll need to know what county the divorce was settled in.
Go to the vital statistics or vital records office of the relevant county, and ask to submit a divorce verification request. They will ask you to fill in a form with some information on the divorce and on yourself.
After submitting that request, you’ll have to wait for a phone call from that same office. Be careful, this could take a few months and up to half a year! So if you want to find the result you’re looking for quickly, your best bet may be to go through the online method instead.
Consulting someone’s divorce records can be a great way to learn more about their previous spouse, children, alimony, and the grounds for divorce. Luckily, divorce records are in fact public in the U.S, and relatively easy to consult. It may take you a bit of time to gather all the information you’ll need to place a request to see these records, but the steps to take aren’t very difficult. We hope this article has been helpful to you.