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How to Find a Divorce Record in Texas
A divorce record is an official document of a divorce proceeding that includes certificates, decrees, and a comprehensive record. These documents are created when two people who are married decide to end the legal tenets surrounding that marriage. This includes marriage reversal, marriage annulment, and marriage dissolution. Because divorce is often a decision filled with negative feelings, and because marriage allows the couple to take advantage of public benefits, legal decisions are often needed to finalize the ending of a marriage. Because these documents are created by government bodies, divorce records are considered public documents, and are therefore open to the general public. Even so, divorce records can be some of the most difficult to locate, and law surrounding divorces often make such documents only open to the people and legal professionals involved in the divorce. Nonetheless, there are methods to more reliably locate and gather these records, in addition to third party solutions that operate in the private sector.
Divorce records are considered court records. They may therefore be searched on third party public record websites. Divorce records can offer personal information on minors, finances, and sensitive criminal information like domestic abuse. Because of this, divorce record, certificate, and decree availability is usually much lower than other types of public records because of the personal nature of divorces. Simply put, divorce records are significantly harder to obtain and search for than other types of public records.
What is a Texas Divorce Certificate?
A divorce certificate is the most frequently requested document, but also includes the least information when compared to the other two divorce record types. This document includes a statement that two people have gotten divorced, where they got divorced, and the date and time that the divorce was finalized. A divorce certificate is usually requested when one of the divorced parties wants to change their name or file to be remarried. For instance, if one of them wants to get married to someone else after getting divorced, they will need to have access to this document. This document should only be accessible by the two people who were involved in the divorce, as well as by the lawyers who were present during the divorce proceedings. Under some circumstances, Texas allows others access to divorce certificates.
What is a Texas Divorce Decree?
A divorce decree is different from a divorce certificate. This document contains all the same information as a divorce certificate, but it also includes information regarding the findings of the divorce case, which is also known as a judgement. This includes spousal support, child support, child custody, visitation agreements, property division. A divorce decree documents all of the agreed-upon information in the divorce hearing including ownership and control of life and death insurance, whether or not either party will take back their maiden name, and how the parties will divide their debt. This decree is signed by the presiding judge and includes a case number. To make changes to this document, the parties involved will need to obtain it. This document should only be accessible by the two people who were involved in the divorce, as well as by the lawyers who were present during the divorce proceedings. Under some circumstances, Texas allows others access to divorce decrees.
What is a Texas Divorce Record?
A divorce record contains more information than both a divorce certificate and a divorce decree. It has the same information provided in a divorce certificate and a divorce decree, as well as all files and documents from the divorce proceedings. A divorce record is technically the case file for a divorce case. Many courts will recommend keeping this file for the future in case it is needed or one of the divorcees decides to fight any decisions or judgments made in the end. Divorce records are generally more public than divorce certificates or divorce decrees. They can be searched for and obtained in the same ways as court and criminal records, with valid identification, information provided, and fees.
Are Texas Divorce Records Public Records?
Divorce is considered a matter of family court in the state of Texas, so many documents pertaining to these cases are filed and held in the county clerk’s office. To obtain a divorce record or a marriage record in Texas, requesting parties must go through the Texas Department of Health and Human Services (TDHHS). These are not marriage licenses or divorce decrees or certificates, and the state always recommends that parties figure out whether this specific record will suit their purposes. The TDHHS offers a list of county clerks, registrars and local record issuers through their records website. Records are available at the specific facility that the document was created. Online, divorce records can be found through the Texas Vital Statistics verification website or through the Report of Divorce or Annulment Indexes at the TDHHS website.
Government public record search portals and third party public record websites both may provide court records search tools, which can help find divorce records, though record availability usually varies widely. Divorce records in particular may simply not be available through either source.
How to Find Texas Divorce Records In-Person
Each government body and municipality, including counties, cities and districts, set their own prices on record reproduction and searching, the opening hours, and best practices for record request procedure. Contact the local clerk or registrar to get this information. To find the correct local records issuer, visit the TDHHS records website. Scroll to the third option, “Marriage and Divorce Records”, select the correct county range, and press “Go”. This will display a list of all county and district clerks in the area that can provide requesting parties with the documents being searched for. To obtain these records in person, visit the clerk's office and fill out an application form. The fee when requesting these records in-person is $20 and can be paid by cash, credit or debit card, check, or money order.
How to Find Texas Divorce Records by Mail
In order to obtain divorce records by mail, print and fully fill out the application form. Along with the application form, the applicant must include a photocopy of their valid photo ID issued by a government body. This can include a state I.D., driver's license, or passport. The applicant must also include a $20 verification fee, a $5 processing fee, a $8 return delivery fee, or $22.95 for delivery from P.O. Box or for express mail. Fees are payable by money order or by check. They should be payable to “DSHS Vital Statistics”. When all of these things are collected, mail them to:
DSHS Vital Statistics
P.O. Box 12040
Austin, TX 78711-2040
How to Find Texas Divorce Records Online
Obtaining Texas divorce records online is fairly simple. Visit the Texas.gov Vital Records Application. This application can be used to order birth certificates, death certificates, marriage verification, and divorce verification. It is possible to order a divorce verification letter online for divorces granted in Texas from 1968 to present. Usually, orders are processed within 20-25 state business days. The record will ship after it is processed. The cost of this record is $20 per copy, and payment can only be made with a credit card or debit card. Note that once and order is placed and confirmed, it cannot be refunded or cancelled. If the record requested is not found, the fee is non-refundable and non-transferable.
The more detail requesting parties can provide, the faster and more accurate the record search will be. To complete the request, have the following information ready:
- The full given name of one of the divorce parties. Occasionally both party’s names are required.
- Date or date range when the divorce was granted (month and/or day are optional)
- City or county where the divorce was granted (optional)
- Date of birth for the husband (optional)
- Date of birth for the wife (optional)
- The age of one or both of the spouses when the marriage occurred
Alternatively, interested parties can use third-party websites should a record prove elusive. These websites are not government sponsored and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to official government channels.