How to Obtain Divorce Records in Philadelphia

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Philadelphia public records at City Hall have records to be copied and certified. You can request certified copies of divorce decrees in-person or by mail.

Divorce decrees and all accompanying paperwork filed as part of divorce proceedings are part of Philadelphia's public record system. Records are available to anyone who wishes to perform and pay for the search and subsequent copies at City Hall. That said, while the records are public information, they are subject to the state's Right-to-Know Law. It is prohibited to use them in a harassing way or to burden the public records office with unreasonable requests.

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For questions regarding getting a certified copy of a divorce decree, you can call the Office of Judicial Records, Civil Filing at 215-686-4252 or send them an e-mail at efsupport@courts.phila.gov.

Request in Person

For any divorce filed in Philadelphia County from 1885 to present, you can get certified copies in person over-the-counter. The Office of Judicial Records Civil Filing Unit is located in City Hall, Room 296 at Broad and Market Streets. Visit between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, Monday through Friday, with the exception of public holidays. Give the clerk the divorce case number. If you don't know that, provide the names of the husband and wife (married last name) and the approximate year the divorce case was filed.

The fee to get a certified copy of the divorce decree is $41.58 and you can pay by cash, certified check or money order. For certified checks and/or money order, make it out to "Office of Judicial Records." You can also pay by credit card so long as you present identification.

Request by Mail

Mail requests for certified copies are also accepted. Include the case number. If the case number is not known, provide the names of both spouses, using married last names, and the year the divorce was filed. Include with the written request a self-addressed, stamped envelope along with payment. A money order or certified check made payable to "Office of Judicial Records" in the amount of $41.58 is the only acceptable form of payment.

Mail the request to: Office of Judicial Records, Civil Filing Center, Room 296, City Hall, Broad & Market Streets, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Hiring Someone to Get Records

While City Hall should have all pertinent records, there are alternative solutions. Attorneys do archive records for several years, and many newer records may be digital. If a certified copy isn't required and the record in needed urgently, this might be the fastest option.

Most private investigators and many online public record providers can also get you a copy of the decree. Keep in mind that they go through the same process to obtain the decree that you would but add extra fees for their time and service. Fees and quality of service range widely.

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About the Author

Kimberlee Leonard had a successful career in financial services, insurance and tax preparation before becoming a full-time writer. She has worked with major institutions such as Wells Fargo, First Hawaiian Bank and State Farm.

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