What Is a Conformed Copy of a Legal Document?

By Mary Jane Freeman
A close-up, a clerk, a legal document

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When you file a document with a court or with a government agency, such as a petition for divorce or property deed, you can request a conformed copy of it from the clerk of court or agency. Generally, a conformed copy is a true and exact copy of the original document. Typically, the clerk places an official stamp on the copy along with any relevant details, such as the date that the original document was filed. The clerk also makes handwritten notations indicating information that was not, or could not, be copied from the original, such as a judge's signature.

Certified Copy Distinguished

When requesting a conformed copy, you also can request that it be certified. This means the court or government agency providing it guarantees that the document is a true and exact copy of the original. The clerk's signature, an official seal or both can indicate certification. You may have to pay a fee to obtain a conformed copy, and additional fees for certified copies.

Conformed Copy Uses

You may need a conformed copy of a legal document in a variety of circumstances. For example, when you file for divorce, you'll need a conformed copy of your petition to give to your spouse. If you start a nonprofit organization, you'll need to send the IRS conformed copies of your formation documents, such as the articles of incorporation, so that you can receive federal tax-exempt status.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

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