Divorce Records: New York Free Search To Find Out if Someone Is Divorced

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Background Checks | November 23, 2022

Computer screen showing divorce records, New York state on the right with a magnifying glass to indicate how to find divorce records in New York.

When looking for divorce records, New York state makes finding out if someone is divorced a little tricky.

New York’s policies and laws can create obstacles to finding these records unless you know how they are classified and where to look.

Fortunately, as a court record, divorce records in New York are public and can be found by using a free records search option.

But, there are a number of other ways to track down whether someone has filed divorce in NY if you know where to look. This complete guide explains everything about searching divorce records, New York style.

Are Divorce Records Public in NY? (Public Divorce Records: New York)

For New York residents searching for public divorce records, New York’s laws concerning marital records and accessibility are important to understand. What everyone wants to know is “Are divorce records public in New York?” While divorce records are considered part of public record in most states across the U.S., New York is one of the rare exceptions.

The most direct answer to the question of are divorce records public in NY is “NO, they are not.” Divorce records are confidential in the state of New York and only available to the parties involved in the divorce, their attorneys, and those with a court order to obtain them.8

Types of Divorce Records: New York

For all divorces occurring in the state of New York in or after the year 1963, divorce records include a Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage and a divorce decree. Prior to 1963, only the divorce decree was available. The divorce decree is a full record of divorce proceedings, including parties involved, time and place, and any settlements and agreements.

Meanwhile, the divorce certificate is a document which proves the marriage was dissolved and records the date and place of dissolution.

Divorce certificates are accessible to either/both of the spouses or any court-permitted individual.7

How To Get a Copy of Divorce Certificate in New York

Individuals wondering how to get a copy of divorce certificate in New York first need to know that the only people who are able to request a divorce certificate in this state are one of the former spouses or someone with a court order from the state of New York, such as an attorney or judge.7

In New York, divorce certificates (after January 1, 1963) are on file with the New York State Department of Health (DOH).19 To request a copy, an individual must submit an application with a copy of a valid picture ID (driver’s license, passport, military identification, etc.) or two documents showing applicant’s name and address (utility or telephone bill, government letter dated within 6 months). See the following bulleted list for a summary of the requirements:

  • Completed Application (Form DOH-4378)20
  • Copy of Passport (when requesting from a foreign country)
  • Copy of Valid picture ID (driver’s license, state non-driver ID, military ID, passport)

OR

  • Two of the following documents showing current name and address of the applicant
    • Utility/Telephone bill
    • Letter from Government agency dated within 6 months
  • $30.00 non-refundable fee (check or money order payable to New York State Department of Health)

Mail all of the above to the following address:7

New York State Department of Health
Vital Records Certification Unit
P.O. Box 2602
Albany, NY 12220-2602

How To Get My Divorce Certificate Online

Many individuals prefer the convenience of online options, and for those people wondering how to get my divorce certificate online, there is a simple route through the vital records page of New York State Department of Health. Follow the link to the DOH, and click the option to “Order Online” beneath the heading “Divorce Certificates can be ordered online.” This link will reroute users to a third party company, VitalChek, where individuals can place online orders for their personal divorce certificates.15

The New York Department of Health screenshot with yellow arrows pointing to the provision for ordering divorce certificates online.

Many states, like New York, have online options for ordering divorce certificates.

Note: The fee for online applications is $45 rather than $30.

How Do I Get a Copy of My Divorce Decree?

Wondering “How do I get a copy of my divorce decree?” This process is typically a bit more complicated because a divorce decree is an official court record, kept with the court that issued it. Therefore, a person usually needs to go through the specific court that settled the divorce case to get the decree rather than accessing it through a statewide site.

The New York Courts website provides guidelines (“Instructions For Obtaining a Certified Copy of a Document”) for requesting certified copies of divorce records.22, 23 To summarize, individuals must submit:

  • Original, notarized, written request with names of the parties, index number, and divorce year
  • Certified check, money order, or bank check for $8.00 (per copy), payable to the New York County Clerk
  • Copy of a valid photo ID
  • Stamped envelope with return address

Mail-in requests can take 10 to 12 weeks to process. In some counties, individuals may be able to obtain the certified copy quicker by visiting in-person. However, not all County Clerk’s Offices allow in-person visits at this time,3 so be sure to find and contact the office of interest before visiting (see New York Courts Locator).10, 28

Can I Get a Copy of My Divorce Decree Online New York?

Waiting 10 to 12 weeks for a certified copy can seem like a lifetime, and visiting the courthouse in person can be a hassle, leaving many people asking “Can I get a copy of my divorce decree online New York?” Unfortunately, because marital records (including divorce) are not publicly accessible in New York, finding these online can be tricky. Below are a few options that may (but are not guaranteed to) yield results.

How To Find Divorce Records: New York

For anyone wondering how to find divorce records, New York’s public records laws can create some difficulties. Using an online search tool, such as the one in this article, can yield fast and accurate results. However, in cases where an individual needs a certified copy of a divorce certificate or divorce decree, it is best to go the official routes discussed in this article, such as the mail-in application to the New York State DOH for a divorce certificate and the mail-in request to the New York County Clerk for divorce decrees.

Divorce records prior to 1847 may be publicly accessible through the New York State Archives.21

Find Divorce Records: New York City’s 5 Boroughs

The City Clerk Online website is an excellent resource for individuals looking for marriage records in New York’s 5 boroughs,30 and for divorce records, New York City residents can contact the county clerk for the borough of residence or use a mail-in application. Find useful links and the contact information for the state of New York and each borough in the table below.

Divorce Records: New York State & 5 BoroughsRecord Search ResourcesContact Information
New York State
New York Marriage Records (Public Marriage Records New York)New York State Department of Health Marriage Certificates Online OrderingNew York State Department of Health
Vital Records Certification Unit
P.O. Box 2602
Albany, NY 12220-2602
Email: [email protected]
New York Divorce RecordsNew York State Department of Health Divorce Certificates Online OrderingSame as Above
New York Public Records Search (New York Clerk of Courts Public Records)New York State Unified Court System eCourts Record LookupNA
New York City: Bronx Borough (Bronx County)Record Search ResourcesContact Information
Bronx County Marriage RecordsThe City of New York Mail Request For Marriage RecordsBronx Office City Clerk
Supreme Court Building
851 Grand Concourse, Room B131
Bronx, NY 10451
Hours: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm M-F
Phone: Dial 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (outside NYC)
Bronx County Divorce RecordsMail-in Application For Copy of Divorce CertificateBronx County Clerk
Supreme Court
851 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10451
Hours: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm M-F
Phone: (718) 618-3300
Bronx County Public RecordsNYC Records & Information Services OpenRecords PortalSame as above
New York City: Brooklyn Borough (Kings County)Record Search ResourcesContact Information
Kings County Marriage RecordsThe City of New York Mail Request For Marriage RecordsBrooklyn Office City Clerk
Brooklyn Municipal Building
210 Joralemon Street, Room 205
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Hours: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm M-F
Phone: Dial 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (outside NYC)
Kings County Divorce RecordsMail-in Application For Copy of Divorce CertificateKings County Clerk
Supreme Court
Room 189, Window #9
360 Adams Street,
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm M-F
Phone: (347) 404-9772
Email: [email protected]
Kings County Public Records SearchNYC Records & Information Services OpenRecords PortalSame as above
New York City: Manhattan Borough (New York County)Record Search ResourcesContact Information
New York County Marriage RecordsThe City of New York Mail Request For Marriage RecordsManhattan Office City Clerk
141 Worth Street
New York, NY 10013
Hours: 8:30 am to 3:45 pm M-F
Phone: Dial 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (outside NYC)
New York County Divorce RecordsMail-in Application For Copy of Divorce CertificateManhattan County Clerk
Supreme Court
60 Centre Street
New York, NY 10007
Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm M-F
Phone: (646) 386-5955
New York County Public RecordsNYC Records & Information Services OpenRecords PortalSame as above
New York City: Queens Borough (Queens County)Record Search ResourcesContact Information
Queens County Marriage RecordsThe City of New York Mail Request For Marriage RecordsQueens Office City Clerk
Borough Hall Building
120-55 Queens Boulevard, Ground Floor, Room G-100
Kew Gardens, NY 11424
Hours: 8:30 am to 3:45 pm M-F
Phone: Dial 311  or 212-NEW-YORK (outside NYC)
Queens County Divorce Records (Queens County Clerk Divorce Records)Mail-in Application For Copy of Divorce CertificateQueens County Clerk
Supreme Court
88-11 Sutphin Boulevard
Jamaica, NY 11435
Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm M-F
Phone: (718) 298-0600
Queens County Public RecordsNYC Records & Information Services OpenRecords PortalSame as above
New York City: Staten Island Borough (Richmond County)Record Search ResourcesContact Information
Richmond County Marriage RecordsThe City of New York Mail Request For Marriage RecordsStaten Island Office City Clerk
Borough Hall Building
10 Richmond Terrace, Room 311
Staten Island, NY 10301
Hours: 8:30 am to 4:00 pm M-F
Phone: Dial 311 or 212-NEW-YORK (outside NYC)
Richmond County Divorce RecordsMail-in Application For Copy of Divorce CertificateStaten Island County Clerk
Supreme Court
130 Stuyvesant Place
Staten Island, NY 10301
Hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm M-F
Phone: (718) 675-7700
Richmond County Public RecordsNYC Records & Information Services OpenRecords PortalSame as above

Other NY Record Search Examples

An individual may need records at unexpected times in their life, and the following are some examples of record searches that may be useful to many people in the state of New York.

A New York Clerk of Courts case search can be conducted through the County Clerk’s Office.  Use the New York Courts Locator to find the relevant office and contact information or use the New York State Unified Court System (eCourts) to search electronically.

New York Case Search Free (New York Court Records Search By Name)

The New York State Unified Court System (eCourts) is a great resource for individuals wanting to conduct a New York case search free or a New York court records search by name or index number. Browse the site for the type of record desired (civil vs. criminal, local vs. supreme) and follow instructions to conduct a search.

Queens County Court Case Lookup

More places are transitioning records to electronic format for safety and convenience, and the Queens’ County Clerk’s office encourages people to use their online system to conduct a Queens’ county court case lookup.14

NY Civil Court case search platform screenshot.

In New York, anyone can search for civil court records (like Divorce records) using the county and the state’s civil court lookup platform.

To get electronic access to court cases, use the New York State Unified Court System (eCourts), and search the Queens’ County Clerk’s Office cases as a guest or account holder.26

King County Public Records Request

To make a King County public records request, individuals need to know what kind of record they require. Deeds, taxes, and other property records are accessible through the Automated City Register Information System (ACRIS).17 Birth and death records can be requested through the NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.27 Marriage licenses can be obtained from City Clerk Online.

Can I Get Free Divorce Records: New York?

Understandably, people want to know about options for free divorce records, New York residents not excepted, and many individuals are wondering how to find divorce records online for free. Sometimes, the easiest way to view divorce records is with a simple, online search. Other times, a person may require official or certified copies. Certified copies are hard to come by for free in any state as government pathways typically have an associated fee.

One of the best ways to get one’s own divorce records is to contact the attorney that worked on the case and request copies of their files. Some attorneys may do this for free, and others may charge a nominal fee.13

Some county courts also allow individuals to search for their records in-person and may even allow them to make unofficial copies.

Civil Court case search results page screenshot.

The results returned by a Civil Court case search will include a number of options, depending on how much information is provided during the platform entry.

In New York, an individual’s court records may be viewable via the eCourts system.

How To Check Divorce Status Online (Check Divorce Status Online Free)

Any person wondering how to check divorce status online can actually see the status of their New York divorce case through a fairly simple process. To check divorce status online free in New York, follow these steps:4

Step 1: Visit the New York Courts website.

Step 2: Click the eCourts option from the bottom menu.

Step 3: Choose option 2, “Web Civil Supreme” from the page options.

Step 4: Choose a search option such as “Index Search” or “Party Search” and follow instructions.

Step 5: Enter required information and county and click “Find Cases.”

Step 6: Scan the list for the case of interest and view the status of the case from the menu. Click “Appearance Date” to see a complete list of appearances, actions, and outcomes.

Signing up for the New York State Unified Court System (eTrack) can allow an individual to receive automatic updates and alerts when anything transpires in their court case.18

How To Find My Divorce Date Online for Free

There are a few options for individuals wondering how to find my divorce date online for free, even in New York, and the list below provides the most accessible routes for all.

  1. Use the free search box provided in this article to see divorce records!
  2. Use the federal PACER application to search cases and see court records.
  3. Use the steps in the section above to navigate the New York Courts website.

How To Find Out if Someone Is Divorced in NY

Knowing how to find out if someone is divorced for free online is helpful in several different situations such as:

  • When a new romantic partner claims to be single or divorced, but there is doubt.
  • When copies of personal divorce records are required.
  • When researching a family’s genealogical history.

Finding out whether someone is divorced is sometimes as easy as a quick internet search using the individual’s full name, the term “divorce,” and any other relevant information (e.g. location, former spouse name, date). The search tool in this article can generate the desired information quickly! A DIY social media background check or premarital background check can also be very helpful in revealing this information before a serious commitment is made.

Other free, online services which can be useful include PACER and county databases such as the New York Courts website,31 though a search can be difficult with incomplete information.11

In the state of New York, divorce records are not publicly accessible, meaning that individuals need to know what resources are available to obtain these records. Using a search tool such as the one provided here can reveal whether someone is divorced and generate divorce records quickly. This search tool and other methods discussed in this article are at anyone’s disposal for finding divorce records New York.

Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce Records New York

Are Marriage Records Public in New York?

Another commonly asked question is “Are marriage records public in New York?,” and keeping in line with divorce records, they are not. Marriage records are only accessible to the two parties involved, their attorneys, and those with court permission to obtain them through the New York Department of Health.

Can I Find New York City Marriage Records Online Free?

Many people have searched for ways to get New York City marriage records online free, but unfortunately, the state of New York keeps marriage records confidential except to parties with a court ordered right to the information. Very old marriage records may be obtained for free from the New York City Municipal Archives.6, 29

Are Divorce Records Public in Other States?

There are many reasons why someone may want to know “Are divorce records public?,” and unlike New York, most states consider divorce records part of the public’s right to know, except in situations where case information has been sealed.9

Why Should I Get a Premarital Background Check?

As divorce court costs continue to rise, a premarital background check is a useful tool for cautious individuals who want to know as much as possible about their partner’s past before entering into a binding marital contract.2

What Is Recommended for How Long To Keep Divorce Papers?

Generally, it is always advisable to retain important legal papers indefinitely, and this certainly applies to how long to keep divorce papers, as individuals can never know when they may be required to provide proof of divorce.16

What Does a Divorce Decree Look Like?

Many people have wondered what does a divorce decree look like, and the exact format can vary depending on the court which issued it. A divorce decree is also called the final judgment of divorce, and it is typically a several-page document which includes identifying information for the parties involved, the case number, the date, time, and location of the divorce, and usually outlines conditions of the divorce settlement (e.g. custody, financial obligations) and court costs.1, 12


References

1Kurtz, J. (2022). What’s the Difference Between a Divorce Decree and a Divorce Certificate? SAS For Women. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://sasforwomen.com/whats-the-difference-between-a-divorce-decree-and-a-divorce-certificate/>

2Mendoza, M. (2022). Why You Should Get a Background Check Before Getting Married. Germ Magazine. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://germmagazine.com/why-you-should-get-a-background-check-before-getting-married/>

3New York Courts. (2022). Certified Copies. New York State Unified Court System. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <http://ww2.nycourts.gov/courts/1jd/supctmanh/Certified_Copies.shtml>

4New York Courts. (2022). E-Courts Instructions. New York State Unified Court System. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://ww2.nycourts.gov/courts/11jd/supreme/civilterm/ecourts-instructions.shtml>

5New York Courts. (2022). Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). New York State Unified Court System. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <http://ww2.nycourts.gov/foil/CourtRecords.shtml>

6New York Genealogical & Biographical Society. (2022, March 16). New York City Public Digitized Vital Records Now Online Free! NYG&B. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://www.newyorkfamilyhistory.org/blog/new-york-city-public-digitized-vital-records-now-online-free>

7New York State Department of Health. (2022). Divorce Certificates. New York State Department of Health. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://www.health.ny.gov/vital_records/divorce.htm>

8New York Courts. (2022). 1st JD – Supreme Court, Civil Branch, NY County. New York State Unified Court System. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://ww2.nycourts.gov/courts/1jd/supctmanh/county_clerk_records.shtml>

9NOLO. (2022). Are Divorce Records Public? DivorceNet. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://www.divorcenet.com/resources/are-divorce-records-public.html>

10The Official Website of the City of New York. (2022). Divorce Record. The Official Website of the City of New York. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://portal.311.nyc.gov/article/?kanumber=KA-01031>

11Sandvick, C. M. (2022, August 5). How to Find Divorce Records. wikiHow. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://www.wikihow.com/Find-Divorce-Records>

12Sember, B. (2022, May 2). What is a Final Divorce Decree? Legal Zoom. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://www.legalzoom.com/articles/what-is-a-final-divorce-decree>

13Syndication Cloud. (2022, January 24). How to Find Divorce Records. Fox 54 News Now. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://www.wfxg.com/story/43222742/how-to-find-divorce-records>

14Vick, R. (2020, April 8). Queens County Clerk Encourages Online Record Access. Queens Daily Eagle. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://queenseagle.com/all/queens-county-clerk-encourages-online-record-access>

15VitalChek. (2022). Easily Obtain Your Vital Records From N.Y. State Vital Records. VitalChek. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://www.vitalchek.com/v/divorce-records/new-york/ny-state-vital-records>

16W, J. (2017, September 9). How Long to Keep Divorce Papers? GetDivorceOnline. Retrieved October 18, 2022, from <https://getdivorceonline.com/blog/how-long-does-online-divorce-take/>

17Department of Finance. (2022). ACRIS. Taxes. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from <https://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/taxes/acris.page>

18New York City Unified Court System. (2022). eTrack – Login. eTrack. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from <https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/webcivil/etrackLogin>

19New York State. (2020, February). Divorce Certificates. Department of Health. Retrieved 2022, from <https://www.health.ny.gov/vital_records/divorce.htm>

20New York State Department of Health. (2022). Information Page – Mail-in Application for Copy of Divorce Certificate. Vital Records Section. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from <https://www.health.ny.gov/forms/doh-4378.pdf>

21New York State Education Department. (2022). Where Do I Get a Copy of a Divorce Decree? New York State Archives. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from <http://www.archives.nysed.gov/content/where-do-i-get-copy-divorce-decree>

22New York State Unified Court System. (2022). Instructions for Obtaining a Certified Copy of a Document. Certified Copy Instructions. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from <https://www.nycourts.gov/legacypdfs/courts/1jd/supctmanh/PDF/Certified-Copy-Instructions.pdf>

23New York State Unified Court System. (2022). NYCourts.Gov. Home. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from <https://www.nycourts.gov/>

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25New York State Unified Court System. (2022). Welcome to NYS Courts Electronic Filing (NYSCEF). Home Page. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from <https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/nyscef/HomePage>

26New York State Unified Court System. (2022). Welcome to the Queens County Clerk’s Office. Queens County Clerk’s Office. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from <https://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/webccos/queenscc/>

27NYC Health. (2022). Promoting and Protecting the City’s Health. Home. Retrieved October 28, 2022, from <https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/index.page>

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