When two people decide to end their marriage, they need to file divorce papers to officially finalize their separation before the court. This creates a divorce record. Once a divorce procedure is final, the judge will issue a divorce certificate, which is official proof that the marriage has ended. The parties often use this certificate in further legal proceedings; for financial and property settlement, alimony and child custody. Divorce certificates and additional forms and documents related to the end of marriage are kept on file in public divorce records.
Most states maintain an index of divorce filings and can issue information to interested parties. In general, divorce records are available to the public, and if one of the ex-partners does not request the divorce records to be sealed, other people can ask to obtain the information. Members to the divorce records may request that the information be sealed and unavailable to public request. The local courthouse usually issues a certified copy of the divorce records for an appropriate fee upon approved request for the documents.
Although public divorce records are included in the divorce indices of most states, not all include the same information or use the same names for divorce forms and documents. It's important to know the difference between a certified and non-certified divorce certificate copy, because only the first is an acceptable proof of divorce in specific legal procedures. A state divorce record can include ended marriages as well as forms and documents about civil partnerships. To understand the various types of divorce records and the information they contain, you may need to ask for professional legal help. For example, a divorce decree may be issued as a court order and not include all specific details related to the ended marriage.