How to Get a Copy of Divorce Papers

By Jane Meggitt ; Updated June 15, 2017
Divorce papers

Just like birth certificates and marriage licenses, divorce decrees and certificates are vital records. Before you set out to obtain a copy of your divorce papers, determine whether you need a copy of the decree itself or a divorce certificate. The decree terminates your marriage and includes specific terms regarding the divorce, such as custody determinations and property division. A divorce certificate simply states the names of the spouses and the official ending date of the marriage.

How to Get the Decree

You can usually obtain a divorce decree from the county clerk's office in the county in which the divorce was granted, although if your divorce occurred some time ago, it may be "archived" – sent to a central state repository.

How to Get the Certificate

Contact the agency handling your state's vital records to get a copy of a divorce certificate. For example, it's the state Department of Health and Environment in Kansas. You'll need to provide identification such as your driver's license or passport, along with information confirming your address, such as recent utility bills or letters from a government agency. You can only retrieve your own divorce records, not anyone else's, at least not without a special court order as is the case in New York. Expect to pay a fee for the document.

About the Author

Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.