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How to find out when someone got divorced

Updated February 21, 2017

Your new boyfriend said he left his wife for good 10 years ago and the divorce has long been final. So he says. You’re not good at trusting, and you want to know for sure. You can find out when someone got divorced with a few simple steps and a little waiting time.

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  1. Find out the married name of the person (or the person’s allegedly former spouse) and the state in which the divorce took place.

  2. Contact that state’s Office of Vital Records, where divorce proceedings are kept on file, and request records on the divorce. You don't need to visit the office in person. Just go the Vital Records Department’s website.

  3. Submit your request, pay your fee and wait for the office to mail you the records. Most of the sites are set up so you can order copies of the divorce records online for a small fee. Yes, it’s a pain and yes, you’ll have to wait for them to provide the records, but that’s how it’s set up. Most have online ordering systems that have you follow a series of easy steps.

  4. Call the Vital Records Department. You might get faster service for perhaps no fee at all, if you are effective at sweet-talking people on the phone. You can try calling the department and, if they have their records at their computerised fingertips, you may be able to talk them into just confirming the divorce and the date.

  5. Visit the department in person. In many cases, a request made in the morning can be fulfilled by the end of the day. Call in advance to make sure.

  6. Do a faster online search (but one that will cost more money) by visiting a couple of different sites set up as the government divorce registry. Here you enter the person’s name and state of divorce and get instant access once you pay the site with a credit card.

  7. Tip

    Just because a site is called a "government registry" does not necessarily mean it is run by the government.


    Don't get fooled into thinking you can get instant information for free. Most of the sites that promise "free” public records search are lying. There are ultimately fees involved.

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Things You'll Need

  • Computer access

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