Are Divorce Decrees Public Record?

Are Divorce Records Public Record in New York?

Believe it or not, countless divorces in the United States become public records according to many state laws.

But not in our state. Divorce records are NOT public records in New York. Instead, New York divorce records, including pleadings, findings, orders, decisions, transcripts, documents, and confidential records (i.e., financial and medical records), become sealed by default. As such, only the parties involved in the case can purchase and obtain copies of a New York divorce record. Such parties who can access these records include:

  • Parties involved in the family law case described in the documents, and their attorneys
  • Parents, guardians, and individuals legally allowed to care for a child as well as their attorneys
  • Representatives of the child protective service involved in a family law case
  • Authorized representatives or volunteers of a court-appointed advocate program assisting in a child’s case
  • Representatives of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct

However, other people may obtain a divorce decree or record in New York if they get a court order. Once a person presents a New York State Court Order, the NY Department of Health will release the requested divorce decree to that particular third party. On that note, courts can redact certain sections of a divorce record before releasing them to a party. Typically, these sections include children’s addresses in family law cases.

Difference Between Divorce Decree & Divorce Record

For context, New York divorce decrees are sealed documents containing the same information as a divorce certificate plus the final judgment. It generally states the rights and responsibilities of both parties, such as child custody/support, spousal support, visitation, property division, debt, and more. A New York divorce record includes more information than a divorce decree, including general case documents such as testimonies, evidence, transcripts, and more. In other words, a divorce record is the case file.

Both divorce records and divorce decrees can be requested and obtained by various means, as you will read below.

How to Get a Copy of a Divorce Decree in NY

If you’re looking to obtain a copy of our divorce decree in NY, look no further. Read the steps below for more information on accessing these documents online, in-person, and by mail.

Finding NY Divorce Records Online

Visit the New York State Department of Health (NYSDH) online platform, which gives access to divorce filing records from all 62 counties in the state. To obtain a copy of your divorce decree online, you must provide the following:

  • A $30 fee payable by credit card only
  • A $15 fee for priority handling
  • An $8 vendor processing fee (charged for each copy ordered)
  • A valid photo-ID or copy of one
    • Driver’s license
    • State-issued identification card
    • Military photo identification
    • Passport
  • Proof of address or copy of one
    • Utility bill
    • Telephone bill
    • Letter from a government agency

If you’re having trouble accessing a NY divorce record online, reach out to our lawyers for help or consider using third-party websites to both locate and obtain a record. Note that these third-party platforms may not provide official or certified divorce decrees.

Getting NY Divorce Records In-Person

Visit the Clerk of the Court that handled the case in question to request a divorce record in person. Some NY counties provide these records through the Office of the County Clerk. But if these options don’t work, go to any valid New York State Department of Health (NYSDH) location to request and gather the documents you’re looking for. You will have to pay a $15 handling fee.

*COVID-19 Notice: Walk-in services at the NYSDH are canceled until further notice.*

Obtaining Divorce Records by Mail

To get a copy of your divorce record by mail, download the form on the NYSDH by clicking here, fill it out, and mail it to the following address:

New York State Department of Health
Vital Records Certification Unit
P.O. Box 2602
Albany, NY 12220-2602

Your request must describe the exact type of records you’re looking for and should be as specific as possible altogether. This will help the Clerk’s Office compile the documents you need in a timely manner. Ensure to include any required fees via check, money order, or another acceptable form of payment, along with the following details:

  • The case index number
  • The type of record sought
  • The record filing date
  • The names of the parties involved

Have Any Questions About Your NY Divorce Record?

If you’re having issues obtaining a copy of your New York divorce record or divorce decree, let us know so we can help. Our Dutchess County divorce attorneys can help you navigate the process and help you obtain the divorce documents you’re looking for. To speak with us about your situation, reach out at (845) 605-4330!

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