We’ve all heard of the statistic “50% of all marriages end in divorce.” It perfectly illustrates just how common divorce is in America. The good news is that that statistic is from the 80s, and things have gotten much better since then.

Divorce rates for most age groups have dropped over the past 30 years, but the rate still sits at 42 to 45%. Approximately one divorce happens every 36 seconds. That’s nearly 2,400 divorces per day and 876,000 divorces a year!

Considering how prevalent divorce is in the U.S., it’s not at all crazy to want to know if a potential partner was once married. So let’s take a look at how you can get copies of divorce records in California.

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Are Divorce Records Public in California?

Divorce records are considered public records in California. You can search for them on public record websites from the comfort of your home. There are three different ways the government notes divorce information:

  • Divorce certificate – This type of record is the most common and contains the least amount of information about a divorce. It simply states a couple got divorced and includes information on when and where the divorce was finalized. The certificate is confidential and is typically only accessible to the divorced couple and their attorneys. However, other people can obtain the certificate under very specific circumstances.
  • Divorce decree – This document contains information about the judgment as well as everything in the certificate. It includes details on property allocations, custody information, and spousal payments such as alimony payments and child support. A judge signed the decree and it will include a case number. Like the certificate, the decree is confidential. It can only be accessed by the divorced couple and their attorneys.
  • Divorce record – This document has the information found in both the certificate and the decree. It additionally has every file from the entire divorce process. It’s basically a case file that documents everything about the divorce. Divorce records are more accessible than decrees or certificates. They can be accessed just like criminal, court, or other public records through traditional government sources. Most county courts require varying levels of identification and fees to produce the record.

Getting California Divorce Records Online

Several third-party websites that offer information about marriage and divorce records. However, before you start searching, get some basic information about the involved parties. At a minimum, you should try to get:

  • The full name of each spouse
  • The county where the couple filed for divorce
  • The divorce date or at least a range of dates
  • Which judicial circuit court finalized the divorce

Once you have the above information, head over to www.open-public-records.com. Fill out the required fields to start your search, and voilà—you will receive all the public information about the person you searched for, including any divorce records. It’s that easy! 

Note: Divorce records, certificates, and decrees that contain sensitive information like personal information about minors, finances, or crimes like domestic abuse are harder to obtain. They likely won’t show up on public record websites.

Getting California Divorce Records By Mail 

An alternative to searching online is to make a request by mail to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). This is a much more involved and time-consuming option, but it is more likely to have positive results. The CDPH has been maintaining copies of birth, death, and marriage records since 1905. The agency needs: full names, the filing county, and date of the divorce. If you have that information already, follow these steps:

  • Determine the type of divorce record you want. The CDPH offers authorized copies and information copies. The former is official and can be used to establish identity, while the latter is more informal and can’t be used as identification.
  • Obtain a notarized statement. The CDPH requires sworn statements from individuals seeking copies of marriage and divorce records.
  • Fill out the VS 113-B application form. It is available for download here.
  • Write a check or money order for $14. Make it payable to “CDPH Vital Records.”

Once you’ve followed the above steps, mail the money and filled-out form to the CDPH address and wait for a response. It can take weeks or even months before you hear back.

Contacting the superior court that finalized the divorce is another option. This is where officials keep actual copies of the divorce record. If you want to get a copy this way, contact the court in question and speak to a clerk. They will send you a request form to fill out and mail to the court. They should respond in 60 days. Visit the California Courts website for a list of all superior courts in the state.

Need Help With Your California Divorce?

Contact A People’s Choice if you require assistance with filing for divorce or have questions about divorces in California. Our legal document assistants will be happy to provide you with information about the divorce process. We can also help you file for divorce and take care of all the paperwork for you. Call 800-747-2780!

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