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How to Get a Copy of Divorce Papers

Getting a copy of divorce papers filed in the United States is a fairly routine process. The uniform policy across America is the recording of a divorce decree by a court clerk in the city, town, county and state records and for the divorce information to be given to the appropriate state?s vital statistics office.

Copies of non-certified divorce papers are available to both parties in the divorce and to immediate family members. Only the named husband or wife in a divorce is allowed to request a certified copy of the divorce papers. A certified decree will have a court or state embossed seal that can be used for legal matters that require proof of a final divorce decree such as a re-marriage, an estate settlement, or for the distribution of a will.

Individuals seeking a copy of divorce papers need to apply to the vital statistics office in the state where the divorce was granted. A request for a copy of a divorce can be made by phone, online, by mail, and in person. A state?s requirement for supporting documentation, any applicable state processing fees and any state specific forms cannot be provided online and will need to be hand carried or mailed in. The office mailing address and location for each state can be found at Most states will want justification for the request. If there is no block on a form for an explanation; a written or typed letter can be attached to the form request.

The person asking for a copy of the papers will need to be prepared to provide some basic information about the divorce. This request for data may include the full names of both the husband and the wife, as well as the wife?s maiden name; the date of the divorce, or the time frame of the divorce in either months of a particular year or a time span of a few years; the municipality where the divorce was granted; what relationship the requester has to the divorced parties; and what is the reason for requesting a copy. Non-certified copies can be utilized as documents to replace lost or misplaced divorce decrees; to show that a divorce was finalized; or for family lineage and historical files.

Mailed requests may take 4 to 6 weeks to complete, while the waiting time for in-person requests can be completed within 10 working days.

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