There may be a number of reasons why you would need to obtain public divorce records. You may need legal proof that your marriage has ended or simply want to conduct a search for personal reasons. Whatever the reason, there are different laws in different states that govern when and who can access the divorce records of others.
If divorce records are open, this generally means that anyone can access them. States that grant open divorce records will normally allow you to view those records for whatever reason you see fit. States that have closed records typically ask the requester to give a reason for viewing the records and may require that you show proof of your relationship to the parties on the documents. Some states consider vital records to be completely private documents and normally only allow viewing by immediate family members or authorized representatives of those family members.
In many states, there is a major difference between a certified copy of such records and an informational copy. A certified copy is normally used in legal situations and will be printed on legal paper that can serve as proof for the dissolution of the marriage in the record. Informational copies are normally marked as merely for information and cannot typically be used in a legal realm.
Most states have laws that require you to pay a fee before you will be permitted to obtain a copy of any public record. Divorce records are considered public records so if you need copies, either certified or informational, you will be required to pay this fee before those records will be released to you. The precise amount of the fee depends on a number of things. Your state may charge a different fee than other states and where you can receive the records will have a bearing on the cost as well. In some states, you can obtain vital records from the Department of Public Health or at the courthouse where the divorce was filed. Many states only provide copies of vital records through the state office associated with those records.
All fees used to obtain copies of divorce documents are not refundable. This is because the fees associated with obtaining these records are more designed to pay for the actual search of those documents as opposed to the documents themselves. If you are in need of divorce documents and you do not have those documents yourself, you can check with your local courthouse to see where you may obtain these records and what the cost will be for the copies that you need.
You should understand that most state laws require this fee to be paid. There are a number of websites that advertise free public records when in truth, there is no way that you can obtain records such as divorce documents without paying the required fee. Some information regarding a divorce may be free but state laws do require that a fee be paid for the search for those records. If you are planning to obtain divorce records online from a free website, you may need to check to ensure what you are actually receiving.
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