How do I get my divorce papers from the courts?

Written by mike broemmel | 13/05/2017

Divorce papers are documents you need to maintain. Unlike other paperwork you encounter throughout your life, that related to the termination of your marriage (and related matters) contains information and directives that you need to reference time and again into the future. As is the case with most people, you likely did not maintain a complete running file of all your divorce papers. If that's the case, you need to understand how to get divorce papers from the court.

Standard Request

If you have money to pay the costs associated with copying your divorce records and papers at the court, you likely will be charged by the clerk. Many court clerks provide a certain number of copies to parties in divorce cases at no charge. However, because copying an entire divorce file is extensive in many instances, the clerk is likely to charge a per-page fee for duplication of divorce papers.

Most court clerks do not take copy requests over the phone. You likely need to go to the court clerk's office and fill out a request form for your divorce records. Additionally, you likely will have to prepay the estimated copy fee, or at least make a deposit.

The typical court clerk in the United States today does accept major credit cards. Additionally, in some jurisdictions you can order copies of your court papers via the court clerk's Internet website.

Indigent Request

If you lack the funds to obtain a copy of your divorce papers from the court, you need to submit an indigent application. An indigent application is a request to the court clerk to obtain your divorce papers and records for no charge. You probably will need to document your financial status in support of your indigent application.

Timeliness

Keep in mind that court clerks do not maintain ready access to divorce files for an indefinite period of time. Indeed, ultimately most divorce files are destroyed.

The court clerk is likely to maintain easy access to your divorce file for a period of a year or two after the conclusion of your case. You face the least cost and the quickest turnaround in a divorce papers request if you make it within a year (more or less) of the end of your divorce case. If you wait until your divorce file is moved to a long-term storage area or system, the costs of obtaining these papers increases (and significantly so in some locations).

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