Where to Find Divorce Decrees in Washington, DC
By Teo Spengler
A divorce decree is a black and white picture of the end of your marriage: your name and your spouse's, the date it all began, the children and their ages, and an outline of how the judge carved up your assets, debts and parenting time. If you want to get a copy of a divorce decree that was issued in the District of Columbia, you must visit the Domestic Relations Branch of the Superior Court of the District of Colombia.
The term divorce decree sounds as if it would be only a simple sentence: "The marriage of this couple is now ended." It contains much more. In Washington D.C., the family court judge that hears your divorce issues her final ruling in the form of a divorce decree and it will contain the details of the child custody arrangements, spousal support and property division. Each former spouse receives a copy of the decree when the judge makes her ruling. Any additional copies you obtain from the court will cost you on a per-page basis.
Where to Go
The Domestic Relations Branch of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia is located on the John Marshall Level of the Moultrie Courthouse, 500 Indiana Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. This is the place where you file your papers during a divorce case, and it is also the spot where you can obtain additional copies of any part of the divorce file, including the final divorce decree. It is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
What You'll Need
If you want a copy of a divorce decree dating after September 15, 1956, you should go to the Domestic Relations Branch with the parties' names and the date of the divorce. If you have the case number, you will speed up the process. The court charges you a relatively large copy fee, $6.50 per page at the time of publication, so only ask for those pages that you really require. The court does not generally accept telephone requests, but you can mail in your request if you know exactly the pages you want and call to confirm the fee that will be charged. You can also obtain certified copies of records there for an additional fee.
Older Divorce Records
For records of divorces entered before September 16, 1956, visit the Washington National Records Center, Suitland, Maryland. To obtain a record, you need to know the divorce case number. You can access an index to early divorces at the U.S. District Court, 3rd and Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C., to obtain the case number if you do not have it. Call to make an appointment with the Washington National Records Center a full day before you wish to review the file. The guards will ask to see photo identification before you are permitted to enter the Washington National Records Center
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.