Per the Freedom of Information Act, marriage and divorce records are both considered public records and available to anyone willing to search for them. In some cases, you can obtain a copy of someone’s divorce records by visiting the courthouse or going online. Sometimes you have to pay a fee, and sometimes these records are free. Let’s explore a few ways you can find out if someone is divorced.
Information You Will Need to Search
Before you begin your search, you will need some information. Depending on the public records source you employ, you may need more or less data. At the very minimum, you should have these basic details:
- Spouse #1 full name (maiden name too, if applicable).
- Spouse #2 full name (maiden name also, if applicable).
- The state and county where they filed for a divorce.
- The date of divorce (if you can find it). Sometimes you can use a date range to search.
It is also helpful to determine the judicial circuit where the divorce was finalized. You can search online courthouse records to find that information or try typing it in Google.
Search Courthouse Records
Quite a few courthouses have their records online. You can find case numbers for divorces that were ratified there. You may not be able to view the actual divorce decree, but you will have a case number that you can use. If you visit the courthouse and bring that case number with you to the records department, you should be able to get a copy without any problem. Some jurisdictions ask you to provide ID and charge a small fee (usually less than $20), and others offer the copies for free.
Visit the Vital Records or Local Town Offices
A lot of public records have been digitized and put online so that government offices can share them. You can inquire about divorce records with the local town office, Department of Health or Registry, or Vital Records repository in the town or city where the couple was divorced. You may have to fill out a request form and wait for your document, or the copy can be mailed to you at a later date. Sometimes the wait can be as long as six months.
Search Your State .gov Website
Every state in the U.S. has a .gov website with varying degrees of free information. Many of them put their public records online with a search feature. Some states offer this service for free, and others charge a fee to provide copies of documents such as divorce decrees, marriage certificates, and other vital records.
Use Infotracer to Quickly and Easily Find Records
There are dozens of database solutions that make it quick and easy to search for divorce records within seconds! Infotracer is one of these portals offering 2 billion records that are updated daily not only on divorces but also criminal records, arrests, marriages, court cases, traffic cases, birth records, social media content, liens, police records, death records, bankruptcies and more!
Use a Private Investigator or Private Company
There are also private investigators and private companies that you can pay to do the searching for you. If you have little to no information about the subjects of the divorce, these companies can tap into resources to help fill in the blanks. The fees will be much higher than other methods, but if you have no option of finding the paperwork, it might make sense to go that route. Complicated cases are a good match for this option.
What Information Can You Find in Divorce Records?
A lot of information may be gleaned from divorce records. If you are curious about someone and want to know more, a divorce decree may answer your questions. Some of the information contained in divorce records is:
- The names of each spouse (including maiden names).
- The location where they were married.
- The location where they were divorced.
- The date the divorce became legal.
- The reason for the divorce.
- The number of children and their ages.
- Court records and assets.
- The divorce judgment.
- Any child custody arrangements.
- Visitation schedules and parenting plans.
- Any linked-criminal charges that resulted in the court granting the divorce.
- Settlement details such as alimony and child support.
Additionally, you may get to review details about how their joint property was divided, if either one of them is receiving spousal support and other facts like that.
Keep in mind that some divorce records (or portions of them) may be redacted or sealed by the courts, in which case it may be very difficult to obtain those details. All other records are fair game.