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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.

  • 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.

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.

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.
Suite 110
Wilmington, DE 19801
(302) 255-2222

Kent County:
400 Court Street
Dover, DE 19901
(302) 255-2222

Sussex County:
22 The Circle
Georgetown, DE 19947
(302) 255-2222

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
Kent County Court House
38 The Green
Dover, DE 19901

New Castle County
Superior Court
500 N. King Street
Wilmington, DE 19801

Sussex County
Delaware Public Archives
121 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd N
Dover, DE 19901
(302) 744-5000

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.