How to Search for a Divorce Record in North Carolina for Free
Updated March 18, 2019
Divorce certificates from 1958 to present are located in the state vital records office. Records for divorces filed prior to 1958 are at the county clerk where the divorce is recorded. Copies of the divorce decree are found at the individual county court where the divorce was filed.
A Divorce Certificate vs. Divorce Decree
A divorce certificate is a validation that two parties dissolved a marriage. It is not the paperwork used in filing for the divorce, nor is it a copy of the judgment itself. The judgment, otherwise known as a divorce decree, describes how the parties will share custody, split assets and deal with financial issues.
Request a copy of the divorce decree directly from the superior court clerk in the county where the divorce was filed. Requests by fax, mail or email are accepted, though in-person requests often get documents the same day. Provide your contact information along with party names, file numbers, documents to be copied, whether documents should be certified and if processing needs to be expedited. Check with the clerk for acceptable payments and fee totals.
Use the same process for divorce certificates filed prior to 1958 and divorce decrees from any time period.
Requesting Certificates 1958 to Present
Use the form Application for North Caroline Death, Marriage or Divorce Record found on the North Carolina vital records website. Ignore the death and marriage sections, but complete the divorce certificate section entirely. Include the date of divorce and the county where it was filed.
The form includes disclosure of the name, address and relationship to the divorcees of the person requesting the certificate. Present identification when submitting paperwork; include the reason for which you need the record. For example, parents use divorce records for children's school enrollment.
Certified and Uncertified Copies
A certified copy of a recorded document means the copy is attested as a true and exact copy of the original. Essentially, it's equal to the original and is used for official documentation purposes such as school enrollment, medical care or financial proof of asset division. An uncertified copy serves informational purposes only.
While anyone can request a copy, certified copies are available only to the parties of the divorce, designated family members or authorized agents. Other parties may not get a certified copy. For example, journalists have access to photocopies but can't obtain certified copies.
Fees for Obtaining Copies
Search fees for vital records start at $24. Obtaining a certified copy starts at $10, with uncertified copies starting at $0.25 per page. Processing time varies per county. Expedited processing is available in most counties for an additional fee.
- Bring money for copies if you need them.
- Be extremely polite to the clerks you encounter in the courthouse. Remember that the clerks are constantly dealing with difficult, angry people; although you might be neither difficult nor angry, understand the environment in which clerks must work. Being nice will go a long way.
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