In California certified copies of divorce decrees are either authorized or informational and must be obtained from the specific county Superior Court where the divorce papers were filed. A list of individuals who qualify as an authorized requestor is provided below. An informational divorce decree is available for family history or genealogy purposes and it is stamped with a declaration that the document is not valid for identification purposes. Divorce decrees are classified as confidential documents in California and while they can be ordered online, they are not available for downloading from the Internet. The state imposes a fee for obtaining a copy of a divorce decree, both authorized and informational. If a search of the court records results in no divorce decree being found, the fee is non-refundable.
<strong>List of Authorized Persons</strong>
California has determined that someone requesting a divorce decree must meet one of the following classifications to obtain a certified document:
1. Be a named party in the divorce.
2. Be a parent or legal guardian of a named party.
3. Be a current spouse of a named party.
4. Be a domestic partner of a named party.
5. Be a sibling of a named party.
6. Be a child of a named party.
7. Be a grandparent of a named party.
8. Be an authorized or legal representative of a named party.
The state requires a notarized affidavit of a person’s authority to request a divorce decree.
<strong>County Superior Courts and Application Forms</strong>
The address for each California County Superior Court is listed at www.courts.ca.gov. The application forms to request a certified document and associated fees are located at www.cdph.ca.gov/pubsforms/forms/CtrldForms/VS113.pdf.
The certified divorce decree can be ordered online or in person at the appropriate county courthouse. The document will be mailed to the requestor when ordering online. When applying for a document at the courthouse, it is possible to obtain a copy while the requestor waits. If the search of the records will take longer than a few hours to process, the document will be mailed to the requestor.
The court will require some detailed information to perform a record search; so the better prepared a requestor is, the faster the process can be completed. At a minimum, the requestor will need to know the names of the divorced parties, the courthouse where the divorce was filed, the date of the filing and the case number assigned to the divorce by the court.