Your divorce certificate is a vital record required for various legal transactions—from legally changing your name to proving the court's ruling on spousal support or custody arrangements.
Thus, it's a good idea to keep a copy of your divorce record on file (and safe), and we can help you understand more about what's on a divorce record, when you would need one, and how to order a copy.
Divorce Certificate Information
Most divorce records include the following information:
- Yours and your ex-spouse's names.
- Marriage location.
- Divorce location.
- Divorce date.
- Reason for divorce.
- Number of children (if any).
- Applicable court judgments, such as:
- Property division.
- Alimony or other spousal support.
- Custody agreements, including child support.
Sealed Divorce Records
Often, court proceedings are public record; as such, your divorce proceeding could be considered public record depending on your jurisdiction.
You can prevent this by having your divorce record sealed. Filing your divorce record under seal means that confidential or sensitive information remains private (i.e. no longer a matter of public record).
Generally, the court does not automatically seal divorce records; you and your ex-spouse (and your divorce lawyer, if you have one) must make a request for a sealed record. When determining whether or not to seal a divorce record, the judge will consider factors such as protecting:
- A child's identity.
- A domestic violence victim's identity.
- Sensitive information such as Social Security and bank account numbers.
Using Divorce Records
Sure, divorce records prove you're divorced, but they're crucial (and often required) for several legal transactions—most notably, changing your name.
For example, in order for your name change to be considered legal, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requires you to file for a corrected Social Security card with your local SSA office. Among various other legal documents, applying for a name change with the SSA requires documentation that proves the name change, and this is when you need your divorce record.
Also, most states require a copy of your divorce record for various driver license and motor vehicle transactions related to changing your name. For example, if you want to change your name on your driver's license, identification card, or vehicle title and registration, your DMV agency will request your divorce record (and possibly your new SSN card).
At the same time, many states also require your divorce record any time you renew or apply for a duplicate driver's license or identification card; if you've ever been in the system with a different name, your DMV agency might want to see the paperwork trail leading to your current legal name.
Finally, some states require a copy of your divorce certificate if you remarry.
Ordering Your Divorce Record
Depending on your jurisdiction, the court might provide you with a copy of your divorce record immediately following your divorce, or you might receive one in the mail once all papers have been processed.
Should you need a replacement or additional copy, generally you can obtain a certified copy of your divorce certificate from the courthouse located in the county where you obtained your divorce.
Refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vital records request information page for your state's specific policies and relevant contact information.
Order Divorce Records Online
Some third-party agencies work to obtain vital records, such as divorce records, for you; however, before you order a copy from a third-party company, make sure your state allows that agency to both access the records and provide certified copies of them.