How to Get a Copy of Divorce Papers?

Marriage is officially dissolved when each partner gets a signed copy of a divorce decree called Judgment of Divorce in New York State. The document contains all the divorce terms, including decisions on asset and debt division, child custody and support, alimony, etc. Every divorce decree is entered into the court system to be found and extracted whenever needed.

What is a certified copy of the divorce decree, and why is it important? Simply put, it is tangible proof that two people are no longer married, meaning they have no joint property, can maintain their finances separately, and can remarry. The document may be necessary in different life situations, like upgrading a driver’s license or changing financial accounts, so it is paramount to get a copy of the divorce decree and keep it in a safe place. However, ex-spouses may sometimes lose this paper. It becomes a real problem if they deal with legal or administrative processes and can’t complete them without a copy of the divorce certificate.

There are many search queries like “How do I get a copy of my divorce decree if I’ve moved to another country?” or “How do I get my divorce papers if I don’t remember a case number?” Understanding your worries, we decided to outline different methods of how to obtain a copy of a divorce decree. We will describe how to get a copy of a divorce decree when the case number is known and when it isn’t, what organization to contact for such data, and what papers can be submitted instead of an official divorce decree.

H2 What Happens If You Lose Your Divorce Decree?

It may be distressing to figure out that you’ve lost divorce certificates. But getting nervous won’t do any good, so try to calm down and take the following steps.

  1. Contact the court and fill out the necessary forms. Get in touch with the court where your divorce was finalized. You can do it in person, call the court clerk’s office, or visit the official website. Currently, courts offer online search tools for different forms, including lost divorce papers. A clerk may instruct you on how to get a certified copy of a divorce decree in the state, or you can learn about it online. Usually, you have to provide personal details of the parties involved, the date when the marriage was terminated, and the case number. The more data you can enter, the quicker the search will be.
  2. Prove your identity. The court will require proof of identity to ensure the person reporting about divorce papers lost is eligible to receive a certified copy. You must prepare valid identification, such as your driver’s license or passport.
  3. Pay a court fee. Usually, a person asking for a copy of a divorce certificate has to cover court fees associated with the search procedure. The amount varies across jurisdictions, so double-check the relevant charges. Every copy has a set price: the more copies you want, the higher the cost.
  4. Wait for the result. You can usually receive a copy of a divorce decree within several weeks. The timeframe depends on the court’s workload and overall processing time. Keep in mind that some states have a fixed waiting period before a person is allowed to request a new copy. Usually, this period is 30 days.

Contacting a court is probably the first idea that comes to mind when former spouses think of how to find a divorce decree. Yet, there are also other options available. For instance, you can reach out to the Office of Vital Records in New York State. Today, it is even possible to send a request online. Of course, the service is paid.

On the other hand, if you hired an attorney during a divorce, you can address an expert and ask for a copy of your Judgment of Divorce. In most states, lawyers are obliged to retain clients’ files for a certain time.

As you can see below, there are several working strategies for how to obtain divorce papers if they are lost. Just be patient and composed.

H3 Getting a Copy of Your Divorce Papers if You Have a Case Number

If you need a copy of a divorce decree and know the case number, the process will likely be quick and simple. In fact, it much resembles the practice mentioned above:

  1. Visit the court where the original certificate was issued or its official website.
  2. Submit the needed data, including the case number.
  3. Prove your identity.
  4. Pay an associated fee.
  5. Wait for the order completion.
  6. Receive and review your copy.

Today, people who are wondering how to get a copy of divorce papers frequently choose online tools. The possibility of obtaining a divorce decree copy online appeals to many requestors due to convenience and time efficiency. However, if you opt for retrieving copies of divorce papers online with money-saving reasons in mind, you may be disappointed. There is still a fee for such a service, and the cost may be the same as the payment for offline assistance. You need to clarify the pricing details in your jurisdiction.

How long does it take to get a divorce decree if you know the case number? On average, a copy is ready within a week after an applicant makes a payment.

H3 How to Get a Copy of Divorce Papers without a Case Number?

When faced with the task of how to get a copy of your divorce papers if you don’t remember the case number, try not to get frustrated. All legal cases are stored in a huge database, so getting a certified copy of a divorce decree is still possible.

  1. Get in touch with the court where your marriage was dissolved.
  2. Name the date of your divorce; it can be an approximate date.
  3. Make a payment.
  4. Wait till court officials conduct a search within the records. They will study the cases from the past 10 years. If the search yields no result, they will focus on the preceding 10 years. There will be an extra fee for each additional ten-year period examined, so be as accurate as possible when you request divorce papers.
  5. Get your copy.

Now you know how to request divorce records without the case number. The main thing is to provide all the personal details you know. Thus, the search is likely to be quicker.

What to Do if You Don’t Know Which Court to Contact?

Perhaps the most difficult situation is when you don’t remember which court handled your divorce. Still, difficult doesn’t mean hopeless. Try the following approaches:

  • Start with the clerk’s office in the last known location where you and your former spouse resided during a divorce process. Most likely, that is the jurisdiction where to get a divorce decree as relevant court records are kept there.
  • If you had a legal representative during marriage dissolution, they may guide you on where to get a copy of a divorce decree. Experts usually have records of which court processed your divorce and can even help you obtain the needed copy.
  • Many court websites provide searchable databases or directories. So, if you wonder, “Where can I get copies of my divorce papers?”, try the National Center for State Courts or state-specific government portals. You can also enter “divorce records + name of the state or region where the divorce occurred” in the search bar. When searching for your case, you should provide as many details as possible.
  • Another method is to contact the Family Court in the state or county where your divorce was finalized. They may help you locate the necessary court based on the supplied information.
  • Where to get divorce papers if none of the listed options worked out? Contact state vital records offices, the Department of Health and Human Services, or similar agencies. Such organizations may not only help you locate the needed court but also provide you with a copy of a divorce decree.

What Documents Can You Submit Instead of a Divorce Decree?

If your attempts to find a copy of your divorce decree haven’t succeeded, but you need to prove your marriage was dissolved, there are 2 documents that can serve as an alternative:

  • A notarized personal affidavit is a sworn statement made by an individual, detailing the circumstances of the divorce and reasons why finding original divorce papers is impossible.
  • A certified statement is a document issued by a legal professional or court clerk confirming a divorce. It is like proof of divorce papers when the initial divorce certificate is absent. Though a certified statement may not be as comprehensive as a divorce license, it serves as a formal acknowledgment of the divorce and may be accepted as evidence of the marriage dissolution.

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