There are a variety of reasons why you may need divorce records. Whether the record is your own, you are confirming a divorce of another individual, or conducting genealogy research, you can perform a search and oftentimes request divorce records if you have the right resources.
Starting with the County Courthouse
Divorce records are considered “vital records,” which also include birth, death, and marriage records. However, a divorce record is a legal document, and thus, you will usually be able to find them in the courthouse records in the county in which the divorce was finalized.
If you know the exact county in which the divorce took place, you can contact that county courthouse clerk to find out the fees and procedure for requesting divorce records. Perform a simple online search with the county name and state to find a contact for that specific county. You will most likely find the contact information you need.
If that doesn’t work, you can find a list of county courts and their contact information on each official state page. Simply type the URL: state.XX.us, where ‘XX’ is replaced by the actual state code. For instance, to bring up the official state website for South Dakota, enter state.SD.us. Official state websites have a variety of helpful information. Look for links to courts or state agencies to find the county you seek.
If you do not know the county, all states have a central agency for vital records. You can contact this organization to have a search performed on the divorce record in which you are interested. A resource to contact all the states’ vital records departments is at: cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm.
Information to Supply to the County Clerk
When you find the county contact you are searching for, you will need to provide information to help the clerk search for the divorce record you need. You will usually be required to complete a form and include information such as the divorce file number, names of individuals, and a reason you are requesting the record.
Since official divorce files contain private and sensitive information, many states only grant official copies to the individuals identified on the divorce decree. You may be able to simply confirm that a divorce record exists, however. Other states, however, consider divorce records public records, and anyone may obtain a copy.
Online Resources to Access Divorce Records
You also have many resources available online to search for divorce records. Many private agencies and businesses perform vital records searches. Most will charge a fee or provide only limited information for free. You can perform a free public record search for individuals at publicrecords.onlinesearches.com/. Enter the name of an individual, and this service will provide a list of potential matches. If you want further information, you can pay for their service to provide the records.
You may also get valuable information from www.vitalchek.com, which is a LexisNexis company. LexisNexis is the most trusted global leader in information research. VitalChek provides easy directions and step-by-step instructions for ordering vital records, including divorce records. VitalChek also provides helpful guides to determine whether divorce records are public or ID-only in each state.
Your search for divorce records can be successful. Use the resources provided here, or do a more specific search online to get the information you need.
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