How to Find Filed Divorce Papers

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It may be you've lost your divorce papers and wish to look at the custody visitation or financial details. Or, if you're planning to get married again, you may need a certified copy of your divorce decree to show the marriage license bureau. It's relatively easy to obtain copies of your divorce papers. If you need to request these papers from a court or divorce attorney, expect to pay minimal fees.

Check your files. Before placing requests with others, which involves paying fees as well as possible travel and/or mailing charges, check your own files or other places you may have storied the documents. If you are on good terms with your ex-spouse, consider asking that person for a copy of the divorce papers.

Contact your divorce attorney. Most attorneys keep case records for two to five years, sometimes longer. Contact your attorney and request a copy of your divorce papers, which typically includes the petition, financial and custody agreements, child-support worksheets if there were children in the marriage, and the decree). Most attorneys charge only copying and mailing fees.

Go to the courthouse. The county courthouse, in the county where you were divorced, maintains copies of your divorce papers. Be prepared to show ID and to pay a retrieval fee (approximately $5 to $25) as well as copying charges. Go to the court clerk and request a copy of your divorce papers. Depending on the court policies, the clerk will either make those copies for you or will give you the file for you to make the copies yourself.

Request divorce papers by mail. If it's inconvenient to travel to the courthouse, contact the court clerk by phone, email or letter and request the policies for ordering your divorce papers by mail. Typically, courts require such requests to be in writing, including the divorce case number (which you can obtain from your divorce attorney), the names of both parties at the time the case was filed, the year the divorce was filed and payment (check, money order or credit card number) for copying and any certification fees.

Contact opposing counsel. Opposing counsel (your ex-spouse's divorce attorney) also will have kept copies of the divorce papers for a two- to five-year period (maybe longer). You can contact opposing counsel and request copies of the divorce papers. Be clear about what portion of the filed divorce papers you want (for example, you might only need the decree). Keep in mind that you are not entitled to letters, messages or other communications between your ex-spouse and that attorney.


  • Before going to the courthouse, it's a good idea to contact the records department and ask what forms of payment are accepted for copying. Some court records departments only have coin-operated machines,so bring with you a stack of quarters, while some offer both coin-operated machines or payment by check and/or credit card.



About the Author

In 1997 Harlequin published Colleen Collins' first novel, followed by many more by Harlequin and Dorchester. Her articles and writing have appeared in "P.I. Magazine," "Pursuit Magazine" and "Cosmopolitan." She earned a B.A. in theater arts from University of California, Santa Barbara and is an active member of Mystery Writers of America.

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