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Verify the Facts and Determine Your Next Steps by Searching for Divorce Records Online

If you need to find some general information about your parents or need to confirm your potential spouse is no longer legally married to someone else, you have good reason to search for divorce records online. This is especially true if you live nowhere near where the divorce was granted, or aren’t sure of exactly where it occurred. Here, you’ll find a general outline of the process to guide you during your search for these vital records on the Internet.

Reasons You May Need to Find Divorce Records

Considering conducting an online search for a record of divorce is ideal if you do not need the record for legal reasons. An official copy must be requested and obtained in person or vial mail. 

You may need copies of your decree if your ex-spouse has taken out new lines of credit and they are showing up on your credit report. In addition, these records can confirm family histories or arrangements agreed upon in case you need to prove these later on in the court of law. If you simply want to check the facts and ensure your spouse-to-be is legally divorced, an online search is ideal.

Public Records Search Engines

Many websites today offer search engines specialized for finding public vital records. These may include birth and death certificates, marriage licenses and divorce certificates. If you know the names of the parties to the divorce and when it occurred, you will likely be able to use one of these search engines to discover where it was granted. This will give you the opportunity to take this information to the appropriate local government office for further research. 

Some vital records sites will only require you to know one of the parties’ names in order to perform an online search. If the correct record is found, the information included varies; names and ages of the couple, the date of the divorce, where to find the divorce decree, and any family history information available may be provided. The advantage to using these sites is that you can simultaneously search all 50 states, which is helpful if you don’t know where the divorce occurred.

State Government Websites

The power of the Internet has not gone unnoticed by local government authorities, so many states have provided public search options through their own websites. State Vital Records offices and Departments of Health frequently are charged with recording and filing divorce certificates, which are part of the final divorce record. These certificates will only provide general information such as the names of the couple, the date their divorce was finalized, and the county in which it took place.

You may have the option of requesting a search online through the website, and could receive your results via mail if you choose. Many states will conduct a general search and provide verification of whether a divorce occurred if this is the only information you truly need.

County Government Websites<

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After obtaining information from the state government, you will likely have the county-specific location that can lead you to the original divorce decree. First, you’ll want to begin by searching the county government’s website to determine where these divorce records are held. It is often with the County Clerk, where you may request copies of the decree by mail or might need to visit in person to obtain an official copy. 

Many counties will obstruct the very sensitive personal information contained in these records. You may receive a photocopy that has many details blacked out such as addresses of the couple, names of minor children that were the subject of any custody or support hearings, and even personal property that they divided in the final agreement. 

Free vs. Fee-Based Searches

Whether you find divorce records through a vital records search engine, the state records offices or corresponding county clerk, you’ll have the option of obtaining them for free or for a small fee. Free searches online are available, but can provide limited information that may need to be pieced together. Fee-based searches are more involved and can provide you more detailed information that may even be backed by a guarantee.

When you request copies or searches in the state and county offices, you will most likely be required to pay a small fee for such services. If you only receive a simple photocopy, your charges will be much less than those incurred with an official or notarized copy. Free records may also be available if they name you as one of the involved parties, or if you are required to conduct your own research through government archives.

Special Situations

Divorces that occurred during certain time periods or more than 100 years ago will likely not be kept in the local government offices any longer, and will not be able to be accessed online. There is only so much space these offices have to store records, and many of the older ones have yet to be electronically uploaded or kept on microfilm.

If you’re searching for divorce records to learn more about former family generations, you may be directed to the local archives and left to search them on your own. Some archives offer index listings to help you during this search, and others simply contain rows of boxes full of original records that you must sift through. 

Accessing Online Divorce Records

Many divorce decrees are accessible online and stored in electronic databases. However, you must be authorized to view the record as one of the parties directly involved or one of these parties’ legal representatives. If you choose to request copies of your record online, you’ll likely be required to submit proof of your identity and possibly speak to the holding office directly. 

Looking up your divorce record is quite easy if you have a case number, especially if your county offers electronic access. You may be required to pay a minimal fee via credit card, but will be able to view them immediately and print as many copies as you like.

Divorce records available online may provide simple information about the parties involved, or lead you to the correct government office to obtain official copies and pursue legal actions against your own ex. If you simply want to conduct genealogical research and learn more about your ancestors, an online search can provide the next piece to the puzzle in following the lives of your own family members.



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