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How to find the date of a decree absolute

Updated March 23, 2017

In divorce law, a decree absolute is the final decree in divorce, or "dissolution" proceedings. When the dissolution of a marriage is finalised, the court in which the divorce papers were originally filed will enter a decree absolute, which officially terminates a marriage and allows the parties to remarry. If you have obtained a divorce, but you don't have a copy of the final divorce papers, any information pertaining to your divorce can be acquired by contacting the court in which the divorce papers were filed and ordering a copy. You may be able to obtain the date of the decree without ordering a copy; however, this is typically only possible if you are able to visit the court in person.

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  1. Look up the court's contact information online. If you know the county and state in which the divorce occurred, visit the court's website. Court websites vary greatly from state to state. Some allow you to view online divorce records. To view records online, you'll likely need to know the name of at least one of the parties, the approximate date on which the decree was obtained and the case/file number.

  2. Have a major credit card ready if you're going the online route. Although divorce records are considered public, court websites charge a processing fee for copies and/or viewing; often, the fee varies depending upon whether you know the case number.

  3. Call the court clerk and ask if it's possible to obtain the date by phone. Some states allow for this, while others do not. Give the court clerk information as to the name of at least one of the parties and an approximate date of the decree. It doesn't hurt to ask the court clerk for the date of the decree, particularly if you don't need a copy.

  4. Visit the court in person to obtain the date. A court clerk can assist you in finding the record. Viewing a decree in person to obtain the date is free of charge; processing fees are only required if you need copies.

  5. Tip

    When you're on a state court's website, you may be prompted to choose the type of court in which the proceeding occurred; superior courts, or "trial courts," are responsible for divorce decrees.

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About the Author

Andrine Redsteer

Andrine Redsteer's writing on tribal gaming has been published in "The Guardian" and she continues to write about reservation economic development. Redsteer holds a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Washington, a Master of Arts in Native American studies from Montana State University and a Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law.

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