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Obtaining California Divorce Certificates

Introduction to California Divorce Certificates


This article is designed to help you get a California Divorce certificate.  Divorce Certificates are a bit more difficult to obtain than Divorce Certificates and Death Certificates.  The main difficulty in obtaining Divorce Certificates is that states have not been registering Divorces for as long as other vital records.  There are some states that still do not register Divorces.  Due to this lack of centralization it is common to contact the county in which the Divorce took place.

Counter to common belief, not everything is a few clicks away on the Internet.  Divorce Certificates are one of the items that you can’t just click some links and get a copy of your Divorce Certificate; this is probably a good thing.  You do not want your Divorce certificate in the public domain, where it can be seen by anyone.  However, this does not mean that you can’t easily get your Divorce certificate by following the correct procedure. 

Certified copies of actual divorce decrees are only available from the Superior Court in the county where the divorce was filed.  The Office of Vital Records can only issue a Certificate of Record - and only for divorces that occurred between 1962 and June 1984.  A Certificate of Record includes the names of the parties to the divorce, the county where the divorce was filed, and the court case number.  A Certificate of Record is not a certified copy of the divorce decree, and does not indicate whether the divorce was ever finalized in court.  Our processing times can easily exceed 6 months.  


California Divorce Certificate Authorized Persons


By California state law, California Divorce certificates are confidential records and can only be obtained by the following authorized individuals:

  • Person Named on the California Divorce Certificate
  • Mother/Father (or Legal Guardian) of Person Named on the California Divorce Certificate
  • Husband/Wife of Person Named on the California Divorce Certificate
  • Domestic Partner of the Person Named on the California Divorce Certificate  
  • Son/Daughter of Person Named on the California Divorce Certificate 
  • Sister/Brother of Person Named on the California Divorce Certificate
  • Grandparent of Person Named on the California Divorce Certificate
  • Legal Representative of an Authorized Person of Person Named on the California Divorce Certificate


California Divorce Certificate for Genealogy Purpose


If you cannot obtain an authorized copy under California law, you can obtain an informational copy.  An informational copy contains the same information as an authorized copy, but will have a legend across the face with the statement "INFORMATIONAL, NOT A VALID DOCUMENT TO ESTABLISH IDENTITY."  Authorized and informational copies are both “certified copies.” This is the most utilized California Divorce certificate for genealogy.


California Divorce Certificate Ordering


Options Option 1 – Order California Divorce Certificate Online

This option is the simplest and easiest way to get your California Divorce Certificate.  Order online and you will get your California Divorce Certificate usually in less than a week.  Many times you will have the option of receiving your vital record by next-day or second-day service.

Order Birth and Death Records Online!  


Option 2 – Order California Divorce Certificate through the Mail

Follow the instructions below, if you are not ordering your California Divorce certificate online.  It usually takes 12 weeks upon receipt of request to be sent to you:

Step 1 - Determine whether you can obtain an authorized copy or an informational copy
In the State of California, authorized copies of vital records can only be obtained by the above mentioned authorized individuals.  All other requestors can only obtain informational copies.  All copies issued are “certified copies.”

Step 2- Download pamphlet for obtaining certified copies of Divorce and death records
<<Pamphlet for Certified Copies of Divorce and Death Records (PDF)>>

Step 3 – Download and complete the application form (and sworn statement if appropriate – see “Note” in Step 3)
 << Application for Certified Copy of Divorce Certificate (PDF) >>
<< Application for Certified Copy of Death Certificate (PDF)>>

Step 4 – Have your sworn statement notarized
You must have your sworn statement notarized if ordering an authorized copy.  
Note:  A notarized sworn statement is not needed if ordering an informational copy.  However, unless an informational copy is indicated on the application form, applications received without a notarized sworn statement will be returned to the sender.  

Step 5 – Determine certified copy fee  
A certified copy fee must accompany all requests for copies of vital records.  Requests received without the appropriate fee will be returned to the sender.  Make your check or money order payable to the Office of Vital Records.  Checks must be drawn on a United States bank.  Money orders must be drawn on a United States bank or issued by the United States Postal Service. Do not send cash.  If no record is found, we will issue a Certificate of No Public Record and retain the fee for the search according to State law.  

Step 6 – Mail your request to the Office of Vital Records
Include completed application form, notarized sworn statement if requesting an authorized copy, and check or money order for the certified copy fee.*  Do not send cash.  Mail to:

California Office of Vital Records
MS 5103
P.O. Box 997410
Sacramento, CA 95899-7410


Option 3 – In Person

In Person in California: You may go to any county health department in the State of California to obtain a certified copy of a California Divorce certificate. Most California Divorce certificates can be issued while you wait.


California Divorce Certificate Ordering Cost


The fee to search for a California Divorce certificate is $13.00, which includes one certified copy of the California Divorce certificate or a "Certificate of Failure to Find." Checks or Money Orders should be made payable to " California Office of Vital Records." Please do not send cash. Fees are not refundable. Additional fees are required for expedited service.

Last Updated on Monday, 24 August 2009 22:13