Accessing Divorce Records
Members of the public may access divorce records from the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics and from the county clerk in the jurisdiction where the divorce took place. However, these documents are only available to those listed on the records or their immediate family members.
Members of the public can also search statewide court records through the online Case Search platform. This information is only available to those who have valid state identification.
Divorce certificates are used to prove that a divorce has taken place. They typically contain basic information about the couple and the date that their marriage ended. They are often necessary for situations such as changing your name on official documents or closing joint bank accounts.
A divorce decree, on the other hand, is a court order that outlines all of the details surrounding a specific divorce case. This can include things such as property division, financial obligations, alimony, child custody, and more. The decree also includes a legal signature from the judge that handled the case.
Depending on where you live, your state may not issue divorce certificates. In those cases, you can visit the office that manages vital records in your area to find out how to request a copy of yours. You will usually need to supply a completed application, your photo ID, and the appropriate fee. In some instances, you can submit requests online or by phone.
Whether you and your spouse settle your divorce out of court or end up going through a trial, once your case has concluded, the judge will issue a final judgment called a divorce decree. A decree incorporates all the decisions made in your case, from resolving custody or support issues to how joint debt is handled. It is important to have a copy of your decree because it will be needed to make any changes to financial accounts or legal names after your divorce.
Divorce decrees are available from the civil court where your divorce was filed. Generally, you can obtain a copy by providing a completed request form and the appropriate fee. Some courts allow you to submit a notarized request for a decree online or by mail. If you or your ex fails to comply with the terms of your divorce decree, such as failing to pay child support or violating visitation rights, you can take legal action to enforce these orders.
In the past, when it was more difficult to travel long distances for a wedding or find someone to officiate your marriage, many couples chose to live as common law spouses. This kind of informal partnership gave them legitimacy and a way to pass on property in the event of death.
Most states recognize common-law marriages and consider them legal. However, the terms of a common-law marriage depend on state or jurisdiction law. For example, some states require a certain amount of cohabitation to establish validity, while others base their determination on case law or public policy.
The federal government only recognizes common-law marriages contracted in states that allow them. This means that for some purposes, such as filing for divorce or insurance claims, you may need to prove that your common-law marriage is valid. For this, you will need proof such as affidavits from witnesses who can attest that you and your partner always referred to each other as husband and wife.
Are Divorce Records Available to the Public?
In the State of Kentucky, divorce records become a matter of public record once a judge passes judgment on the case and issues a final decree. These records are then available to anyone who wishes to view them, provided that they can provide enough information about the case to conduct a search and pay the necessary fees. This includes the parties to the case, their immediate family members, and their legal representatives. However, some private information may be sealed by court order, and access to these records is thus limited.
Members of the public can request divorce documents from the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services office by mail, phone, or in person. These requests are available for divorces that took place from June 1958 forward. Those seeking information about their family’s ancestry can also request documents from county clerk offices, which hold records for cases that were filed prior to this date. This is not a comprehensive list, however, as some counties choose to retain divorce records for their own archives.