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How to Find a Divorce Record in Connecticut
A Connecticut divorce record includes all the documents associated with the proceedings of the dissolution of a marriage in the State of Connecticut. There are three general types of divorce documents; 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 record, certificate, and decree availability is 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.
What is a Divorce Certificate?
A divorce certificate is a legal document that contains basic information about a divorce case. It does not contain specific information related to the details of the divorce settlement. Information usually provided by this document include:
- Names of the parties to the divorce
- Where the divorce took place
- When the divorce was finalized.
What is a Divorce Decree?
A divorce decree is a legal document that asserts the dissolution of a marriage, in the State of Connecticut, and details the conditions of the settlement. It establishes the rights and responsibilities of each party as well as the terms of:
- Asset division
- Child custody and visitation rights
- Child support
It is a binding document and both parties to the divorce must comply with its contents. A divorce decree is also referred to as a Judgment File.
What is a Divorce Record?
A divorce record refers to the full set of documents detailing the dissolution of a marriage in the State of Connecticut. It is the complete case file of the divorce and contains all the information in the divorce decree as well as every file and report associated with the divorce including those introduced during the proceedings.
Are Divorce Records Available to the Public in Connecticut?
Divorce records in Connecticut are public records. Therefore, they are available to members of the public. In Connecticut, records of divorce proceedings can be located and viewed online. However, members of the public cannot request and receive certified copies of Connecticut divorce records. These are only available to:
- Persons listed on divorce records
- Children of parties named in the divorce documents
- Parents and/or legal guardians of the divorced parties
- Legal representatives of divorced parties
When submitting a request for a Connecticut divorce record, the requester should provide the following information and documents:
- Photo ID
- Names of both parties on the divorce record (including maiden names)
- Date of the divorce
- Location of the divorce
Divorce records can be sealed in the State of Connecticut, but this is not done by default. Only family courts can seal divorce records in Connecticut. To seal a record, both parties to the divorce must file a request (motion) with the court. The motion will be reviewed by a judge who can choose to grant or deny the request. Divorce records in Connecticut may be sealed:
- If the records contain sensitive information regarding children
- To protect victims of abuse or domestic violence
- To protect banking and other personal financial information
- To prevent false or malicious information from entering the public domain
Once a divorce record is sealed, it is only available to the parties named in the record, their attorneys, and officials of the court. A third party may access this record only with a court order authorizing access to the confidential documents found in the record.
How to Obtain Connecticut Divorce Decrees?
A Connecticut divorce decree is available from the Judicial District Clerk’s Office in the Connecticut Superior Court where the divorce took place. When looking for a divorce decree in the state, search available records with the Superior Court Case Look-up tool. To conduct an online search, the requester will need to provide the case name (on the record) and a docket number.
This search tool only allows the public to view available records. To obtain a certified copy of a Connecticut divorce decree, the requester must submit a written request to the Superior Court which issued the judgment. Only parties eligible to receive a divorce decree will receive a copy on request. Eligible persons are parties named on the record, their immediate family members, and authorized legal representatives. When submitting a request for the record, the request should include a valid photo ID and pertinent information about the record. Requests for divorce decrees can be submitted by mail or paying a visit to the Superior Court where the judgment file is located.
Connecticut Superior Courts charge $25 for a certified copy of a divorce decree.
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 Connecticut Divorce Certificates?
The State of Connecticut does not issue divorce certificates. The Connecticut Department of Public Health (CDPH) does not record divorce decrees and cannot issue certificates.
What is the Connecticut Divorce Index?
The State of Connecticut retains an online index of divorces that occurred in the state. This is most useful for family history records or genealogical research. It can also help identify where a particular divorce took place. The historical divorce records available in this database can be searched and viewed online, but cannot be downloaded or printed. To obtain a copy of a record, contact the Connecticut Superior Court where the associated divorce was finalized.
The divorce index is available from the History and Genealogical Unit of the Connecticut State Library. Members of the public can use the statewide search tool to find records or search for records by county. Available records include those for divorces finalized between 1968 and 1997. These records can only be viewed. The records available from these indexes are archival records.
Does Connecticut Recognize Common-Law Marriages?
Connecticut recognizes common-law marriages created in other states, as long as the other state’s law accepts the union as valid. The components of common-law marriage differ slightly in each state; nonetheless, the essential features are:
- The parties presenting themselves to the world as a married couple through their actions
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), ten states and the District of Columbia (Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah) accept common-law marriages; however, several impose restrictions. Five additional states (Georgia, Idaho, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania) recognize only those created prior to a specified date.