Get a Copy of Your Divorce Record: A Step-by-Step Guide
In life, there are moments when we need to access important records for various reasons, and getting a copy of your divorce record is one such instance. Whether it’s for legal purposes or personal reference, understanding the process of obtaining your divorce decree is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps required to get a copy of your divorce record, also known as a divorce decree.
Understanding the Importance
Before we dive into the process, it’s essential to understand why having a copy of your divorce record is crucial. This document holds valuable information about your marital history and can be required for several purposes, including:
1. Legal Transactions
When dealing with legal matters such as estate planning, property division, or child custody arrangements, having your divorce decree is often necessary.
2. Personal Records
Maintaining your personal records is essential for various reasons, such as providing proof of your marital status when required.
If you plan to remarry, many jurisdictions require proof of your divorce before issuing a marriage license.
4. Genealogy Research
For those interested in tracing their family history, divorce records can be a valuable resource to understand family dynamics and connections.
The Details of Getting a Copy of Your Divorce Record
Now that you understand the importance, let’s explore the step-by-step process of obtaining your divorce record.
1. Call Your Local Probate & Family Court
The first step is to contact your local Probate & Family Court to find out how long it will take to get your divorce record. Each court may have different processing times, so it’s crucial to inquire about this in advance.
2. Confirm the Finality of Your Divorce
Before requesting a copy of your divorce record, ensure that your divorce is final. This step is vital because only finalized divorces have official divorce decrees.
3. Gather the Necessary Information
To receive a certified copy of your divorce record, you’ll need your docket number. If you don’t have this information:
a. Search Online
You can search for your case on masscourts.org, which may provide you with the docket number.
b. Contact the Court
Call the Probate & Family Court where your case was heard, and they can assist you in finding your case docket number.
c. Visit the Virtual Registry
If you’re unsure of the county where your case was heard, visit the Probate & Family Court Virtual Registry. Court staff can assist you based on the case type, the parties’ names, and the city/town where the divorce was filed.
4. Complete the Request for Copies Form
Once you have the docket number, complete the Request for Copies form. You can either mail the form and payment or bring them to the courthouse where you’re requesting a copy of the court record from.
Note: If you’re looking for a historic record, please refer to the section on Accessing Court Archives.
Fees for Getting a Copy of Your Divorce Record
Understanding the fees involved is essential to ensure a smooth process. Payments must be made by attorney’s check, money order, bank-certified check, or bank cashier’s check, all made out to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Here are the fees associated with obtaining a copy of your divorce record:
- Certificate of divorce absolute: $20 each
- Certified copy of a judgment of divorce nisi (Excluding supporting documents): $20 each
- Certified copy of a divorce separation agreement (Including page charges): $20 for the first page plus $0.05 cents for each additional page
How to Get Your Divorce Record
Now that you have all the required information and have paid the necessary fees, you have two options for obtaining your divorce record:
1. By Mail
You can mail the completed Request for Copies form and payment to the Probate and Family Court where you’re requesting the court record.
2. In Person
Alternatively, you can bring the completed form and payment in person to the Probate and Family Court.
Getting a copy of your divorce record is a straightforward process as long as you follow the steps outlined in this guide. Remember, this document can be vital for various legal and personal purposes, so it’s essential to have it readily available when needed.
For any further questions or assistance, don’t hesitate to contact your local Probate & Family Court.
1. How long does it take to get a copy of my divorce record?
The processing time may vary depending on your local Probate & Family Court. It’s advisable to call and inquire about the specific timeline.
2. Can I request a copy of my divorce record online?
In some jurisdictions, online requests may be available. However, it’s best to check with your local Probate & Family Court for the most accurate information.
3. What if I can’t find my docket number?
If you’re unable to locate your docket number, you can contact the court where your case was heard or visit the Virtual Registry for assistance.
4. Are there any restrictions on who can request a copy of a divorce record?
Typically, divorce records are public records, but some information may be redacted for privacy reasons. It’s advisable to check with your local court for specific regulations.
5. Can I request divorce records for genealogy research?
Yes, divorce records can be valuable for genealogy research, as they provide insights into family history and connections.