How to Find a Divorce Record in Alabama
An Alabama divorce record refers to all office documents establishing the dissolution of a marriage in the state. Every piece of information regarding the divorce may be included in the record. Courts in Alabama maintain three types of divorce documents. These are divorce certificates, divorce decrees, and divorce records.
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 records, certificates, and decree availability are 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 Public in Alabama?
Divorce records in Alabama are public records. Therefore, they are available to anyone requesting them. Requesters must provide the required information to search and retrieve these records. Alabama Circuit Clerk’s Offices do charge nominal fees for requested copies of divorce records.
However, Alabama restricts access to sealed divorce records. Therefore, only those named on these records and their attorneys can search divorce records in Alabama. Divorce records in Alabama are not sealed by default. To seal a divorce record in Alabama, the parties involved must file a motion with the court requesting the sealing of their records. Both parties in a divorce case must agree to this and provide valid reasons. A judge will then decide whether to grant or deny the motion. Alabama family courts are likely to seal divorce records if they:
- Contain confidential financial records or trade secrets
- Contain information regarded to impact national security
- Encourage scandal or defamation
- Include the identities of minors and victims of abuse
- Pose threats of harassment, exploitation, physical intrusion, or other forms of harm to the parties involved or a third party
To have an Alabama divorce record sealed, both parties to the divorce must agree and wish to move forward with the process. A motion must then be filed in court and a judge must grant the motion. Sealed divorce records in Alabama are only available to both parties on the record, their attorneys (and employees thereof), and officers of the court.
What is a Divorce Certificate?
Among the three types of official divorce records, a divorce certificate contains the least information about the divorce on record. However, it is the most commonly used divorce document. In Alabama, it is issued by the Alabama Department of Public Health and may be obtained by anyone who can provide enough information for a record search and pay the required fees. A divorce certificate, issued in Alabama, will include the following information:
- Names of the two people getting the divorce
- Time of the divorce
- The location of the divorce
What is a Divorce Decree?
A divorce decree is a court document that details the final judgment of an Alabama Family Court at the end of a divorce case leading to the dissolution of a marriage. It is issued by the court and received at the end of the proceedings. A divorce decree is signed by a Family Court judge and bears an identifying case number.
This legal document also details the judge’s decisions which are binding to both parties. It will indicate the terms of any settlement reached, as agreed by both parties. In addition to the information contained in a divorce certificate, a divorce decree will also include custody information, details about property division, and terms (and schedule) for spousal and child support payments.
A divorce decree is issued by the court which granted the divorce. In Alabama, all divorce final judgments before January 1950 are only available from the Offices of the Clerks of the Circuit Courts of the counties where such decrees were issued.
What is a Divorce Record?
A divorce record typically contains the most information of all divorce documents and represents a complete case file of a divorce. It will include all information from a divorce certificate and a divorce decree, as well as every single file and report from the whole process.
How to Find Public Divorce Records Online
Alabama divorce records are considered public information. Hence, they may be searched on third-party public record websites. Requesters must be careful about the aggregate database and enure that their private information are secured.
How to Obtain Alabama Divorce Certificates
Alabama divorce certificates are obtained by submitting requests for these records to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH). The Center for Health Statistics keeps records of all divorces in the state since January 1950. Divorce records produced before this date are available from the Offices of the Clerks of the Circuit Courts in the state.
The public can request divorce certificates from the ADPH by submitting their applications online, by mail, and in person. Send a mail application to the state office of the ADPH or visit any county health department in the state to request these records in person.
The ADPH charges $15 to search for a divorce certificate and provide a certified copy of the record. If the record cannot be found, a ‘Failure to Find’ certificate will be issued. There are no refunds if the record is not found. Each additional copy of the same record, ordered at the same time, costs $6.
A mail request for a divorce certificate should include a completed Vital Records Request Application form and a check or money order for a search/copy fee made payable to the State Board of Health. Send the completed form and payment to:
Alabama Vital Records
Alabama Department of Public Health
P.O. Box 5625
Montgomery, AL 36103-5625
For a walk-in request, submit the completed Vital Records Request Application form to any county health department in the state, along with the appropriate fee. Cash, check, and money orders are accepted for payment when requesting divorce certificates in person. In most cases, the divorce certificate can be issued while the applicant waits.
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 Alabama Divorce Decrees
Alabama divorce decrees are court documents that are issued after divorce cases and represent family courts’ final orders for the dissolution of marriages. To get a divorce in Alabama, the court issues a divorce decree to the attorneys on record after the process has been concluded. Both parties can receive copies of this decree from their respective attorneys.
If either party wishes to obtain a copy of the divorce decree months or years after the event, the party should contact the Clerk of the Court which issued the decree. The Clerk can issue a copy of the divorce decree to either of the parties indicated on the decree or their attorneys. Contact the Office of Clerk of the Circuit Court where the divorce was granted to enquire about obtaining a divorce decree. Usually, Alabama Court Clerks require requesters to submit written requests for this purpose. A written request for copies of a divorce decree must provide the following information:
- Names of both parties to the divorce
- Court case number
- Date of the divorce
- Location of the divorce
Alternatively, visit the Office of the Court Clerk to request this divorce record in person. The fee for obtaining an Alabama divorce decree varies by county and is determined by the court which granted the divorce.
Does Alabama Recognize Common-Law Marriage?
Alabama common law marriages created before January 1, 2017, are considered legal. Simply living together is not enough to create a common-law union. For a common-law marriage to be recognized, couples must be of marriageable age and must agree to be married, which means they must act or say something that shows their intent to marry. They must also have demonstrated to their families and friends that they are married.
How to Find Out if Someone is Divorced in Alabama
Publicly available divorce records are also managed and disseminated by some third-party aggregate sites. These sites are generally not limited by geographical record availability and may serve as a reliable jump-off point when researching specific or multiple records. However, third-party sites are not government-sponsored. As such, record availability may differ from official channels. The requesting party will be required to provide the following information to find a record using the search engines on third party sites:
- The location of the record in question, including the city, county, or state where the case was filed.
- The name of someone involved, providing it is not a juvenile.