How to Find a Divorce Record in Delaware
Any divorce case that was handled by the Family Court in the State of Delaware has a record. These records are referred to as divorce records. They contain information on court proceedings and rulings of divorce cases. There are three main types of divorce records in Delaware: divorce decrees, divorce case records, and divorce certificates. In line with Delaware statutes, persons who have these records are legally and officially divorced.
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.
Are Divorce Records Available to the Public in Delaware?
Yes, divorce records are available to the public in Delaware. The Family Court’s public access policy of May 8, 2007, gives members of the public the right to request copies of divorce records with these exceptions:
- Sealed records
- Expunged records
- Records bearing identifying information such as driver’s license information, witness information
- Custody investigation
- Records bearing health information such as HIV/Aids status, medical records
- Records regulated by statute, common law, or court rule
- All court notes, memoranda, and drafts used in the preparation of the final judgment, and
- All other records prohibited from release to the public by Delaware statute
Only divorced parties, their legal representatives, and immediate family members can request certified copies of divorce records in Delaware
What is a Divorce Certificate?
In Delaware, a divorce certificate is a vital record issued to divorced parties as evidence that their divorce was granted. A divorced person needs this certificate when applying for a name change or seeking a new marriage license. It contains the least amount of information compared to other divorce records. This document provide the following details:
- Full names of the divorced parties
- Date of divorce
- Place of divorce
What is a Divorce Decree?
A divorce decree is a court document finalizing the dissolution of a marriage after a divorce case in a Delaware Family Court. It is the final judgement in the court case and provides the same details as a divorce certificate. A Delaware divorce decree also spells out the terms of the divorce and provides details of:
- Property divisions
- Child support
- Child visitation/custody rights
- Alimony order
The Family Court is responsible for maintaining and providing divorce decrees in Delaware. These records are issued to divorced parties 30 days after the final rulings of their divorce cases.
What is a Divorce Record?
A divorce record is a file that contains the complete court proceedings of a divorce case tried and handled by a Family Court in the State of Delaware. This type of divorce record contains the divorce decree, pre-trial documentations, and documents generated and introduced during the trial. These include motions, orders, summons, court transcripts, assessments, reports, and financial statements.
A divorce case record is the most complete divorce record. A divorced party needs this complete case file if they decide to appeal their divorce case and challenge the court’s final ruling.
How to Find Out if Someone is Divorced in Delaware
To find out if someone is divorced in Delaware one can do so by obtaining divorce records of the subject of the data sorted. This can be accessed from the court in which the divorce took place either through their online database or by inspecting the records available. Divorce records can also be obtained from the office of vital records in Delaware (either from their online database or in-person visit). Furthermore, one can also check the privately owned database of persons divorced within the state of Delaware.
How to Find Public Divorce Records Online
To find a public divorce record those seeking records can visit the site managed and maintained by the state judiciary system to search for sorted divorce records. Members of the public can also check the database maintained by the Delaware vital records office or visit an online private aggregate database to carry out a search.
How to Obtain Delaware Divorce Records
To obtain copies of Delaware divorce records, submit a request to the Records Department of the Family Court in the county where the divorce was granted. Most Delaware Family Courts accept in-person and mail requests for court records.
If requesting divorce records in person, visit the Family Court’s Records Department during its business hours. These are usually between 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m from Monday to Friday. Below are the addresses and phone numbers of the Family Courts in the three counties of Delaware:
New Castle County:
500 N. King St.
Wilmington, DE 19801
400 Court Street
Dover, DE 19901
22 The Circle
Georgetown, DE 19947
Requesters must provide their names and dates of birth when asking for these records. Delaware Family Courts require requesters to present valid photo IDs such as driver’s licenses, State IDs, and Military IDs. They must also provide divorce dates and full names of divorce parties to court officials searching for and retrieving these records.
Delaware courts charge $4 for each certified copy of a divorce record, $5 for each exemplified copy, and $1 for a non-certified or plain copy. Plain copies of court documents are only useful for providing information. Certified and exemplified copies are legal documents useful for tax, insurance, and other official purposes. If the divorce record has been archived, the Family Court will charge an additional fee. All fees are payable by check, credit card, money order, or cash.
To request for copies of a Delaware divorce record by mail, send a written request to the Records Department of the Family Court in the county where the divorce was finalized. This letter must include all information needed to find the records needed. Therefore, the letter should identify the persons named on the divorce record as well as the time and location of the divorce. It should also include the requester’s name, date of birth, and notarized signature.
Delaware charges the same fees as for in-person requests when requesting plain, certified, and exemplified copies of divorce records by mail. However, only money order and check are accepted for payment for mail requests.
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 Obtain Certified Copies of a Delaware Divorce Certificate
Delaware does not provide certificates for divorces. Rather, it directs divorced individuals to request copies of their divorce decrees when they need to present proof of the dissolution of their marriages. Delaware divorce decrees are court records and maintained at county level.
To obtain copies of a divorce decree issued between 1978 and the present, visit the Records Department of the Family Court in the county where the record was issued. Divorce decrees issued prior to this date are available from the Prothonotary Offices in Kent and New Castle counties. Divorce decrees issued in 1977 or earlier in Sussex county are maintained by the Delaware Public Archives. The addresses of these offices are listed below:
Kent County Court House
38 The Green
Dover, DE 19901
New Castle County
500 N. King Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Delaware Public Archives
121 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd N
Dover, DE 19901
Does Delaware Recognize Common-Law Marriages?
Common law marriages in Delaware are recognized if contracted legally from other states. This is consistent with the U.S Full Faith and Credit Clause, which requires states to uphold the judgments of other states’ courts. The state of Delaware prohibits all other sorts of marriages, including proxy marriages, cousin marriages, and common-law marriages. However, on July 1, 2013, the state authorized same-sex marriages. By doing so, Delaware state laws provide the same level of legal protection to couples in same-sex marriages as they do to heterosexual couples.
What are Dissolution of Marriage Records?
A dissolution of marriage is another term used for divorce in the state of Delaware. it is the legal process of breaking off a marriage contract. This process is supervised by a court of law in the state in which one or both of the divorcing spouses live. The divorce process and dissolution of marriage process are the same in Delaware. Dissolution of marriage records are records of divorce/legal severing of marriages that took place within Delaware.
Provisions for the dissolution of marriage process in Delaware include the following:
- Residency of either one or both spouses seeking dissolution of marriage.
- Spouses must be legally separated under Delaware law as of the time the divorce is filed.
The divorce process can be completed in a minimum of 180 days. The fee for filing for divorce is $150.00. Information on the dissolution of marriage record accessible to the public includes full names of the former spouses, date of birth, and date of divorce. Other information regarding details of the divorce is only accessible to the former spouses involved and those authorized by the law.
How to Find Dissolution of Marriage Records in Delaware.
To find dissolution of marriage records in Delaware, the requester can access them either online, in person, or by mail
Online; Dissolution of marriage records can be obtained online from the database maintained by the judiciary system or third-party sites. Requesters should note that details of the marriage dissolutions (original divorce papers) can only be accessed by parties involved directly in the divorce or those who have legal access by law.
For in-person requests; visit the Records Department in the county where the divorce or annulment was granted during working hours. One would need to present a valid ID to the clerk; showing their name and date of birth. For third-party to the divorce, only uncertified copies of the record can be obtained. The fee for obtaining a certified copy of your divorce decree is $4.00. While a non-certified copy is $1.00. Payment is accepted by cash, check money order, or credit card.
For mail; a written request should be sent to the Records Department in the county where the divorce was granted. The request should include one’s full name, date of birth, and an authorized signature.
How to Get Divorce Papers in Delaware
To obtain a copy of divorce papers or documents, members of the public seeking it can visit the site maintained by the family court to access all necessary forms/documents needed in filing for a divorce. There are two types of papers that are necessary for filing a divorce; required and/or situational. Required includes all forms that must be filled and submitted for a divorce to be filed and situational forms which are to be filled with respect to one’s particular situation surrounding the divorce. Persons seeking these papers can also visit the resource center of the Family Court in the County where they are residents, or reach out to an attorney. If an individual intends to represent his/herself it is advised that such a one goes through Divorce Instruction Packet while preparing their filing.
Some third-party sites especially those that offer online divorce which can only be carried out for those who meet all Delaware requirements and have an uncontended filing provide divorce papers.
Divorce papers include:
- Petition for divorce/annulment.
- Vital statistics sheet.
- Information sheet.
- And the certified copy of your marriage/civil union certificate.
Divorce papers are prepared and drafted by the state’s judicial system or an attorney. After the divorce papers have been filed by the plaintiff (the spouse seeking a divorce), they have to be "served on"/delivered to the defendant. The other spouse is notified about the divorce by the summons prepared by the court clerk. If the defendant is cooperative, he/she is required to fill and sign an "Affidavit of Appearance”. The spouse agrees to receive the divorce petition and to be bound by the laws governing family court in pertaining divorce. Where the defendant is not cooperative, the court clerk gives the sheriff to serve the divorce papers to the defendant.
How to Find Divorce Papers Online
The judicial system. and some third-party sites make provisions for accessing divorce papers online. Requesters can visit either of the sites to access one.