Obtain a certified copy of a divorce decree in Ohio through the office of the clerk in the county where the divorce was finalized. If you are unsure where the divorce was finalized, some leg work is required to find the right county clerk's office. A certified copy of the divorce decree is an official copy signed and stamped by the court clerk, giving full attestation that the copy is an exact reproduction of what is on file with the court records office. A photocopy is not the same as a certified copy.
Check with Your Attorney First
Before going to the court clerk and paying additional fees, check with your family law attorney to see if he has a copy.
How to Locate the Correct Office
You don't need an attorney, paralegal or law clerk to obtain a certified copy of your divorce decree. First, find the right county clerk office where the divorce was finalized. The Ohio Department of Health has a list of each county clerk's office with a link, phone number and email to the office. Make initial inquiries by phone or email to find out if your records are located there.
Request the Correct Form and Payment Instructions
Once you find the correct clerk's office, ask the clerk to email you the required forms and how payment is accepted. While many county offices accept phone, mail and email requests, going in person is highly recommended to complete all required paperwork and payments. This not only ensures the paperwork is completed properly, but also expedites the process.
Costs of Certified Copies
While costs vary among Ohio county offices, most quote the standard fee of $1 per page for certified copies. Confirm costs with the office where you are making the request. If the clerk cannot email you forms, locate and print required forms from the county website. Once printed, mail the original signed request forms directly to the clerk's office. Include a self-addressed stamped envelop with sufficient postage, payment for copies and fees to the clerk.
While certified copies are always available upon request at the county clerk's office, planning ahead saves time and will prevent delays in moving on with your life. For example, you may need to re-title the house, divide a retirement account and separate bank accounts. Get a certified copy for each of the tasks. Most institutions want the full decree and not just the first pages.