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How to Find a Divorce Record in New Jersey
In New Jersey, a divorce is legally referred to as a “dissolution case” by the courts. These cases fall under the purview of Family Division in the Superior Court of the county where the divorce happens. After a divorce is finalized and the case is closed, the case is then archived. The time between finalization and archiving differs depending on the county. This list states the year that each county starts archiving the dissolution cases at the Superior Court Clerk’s Office.
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 are New Jersey Divorce Certificates?
A divorce certificate is the most general file available that documents that a divorce took place. This document contains the names of the parties along with the date and location where the divorce was finalized. Divorce certificates are often used to prove that a divorce happened, and are commonly requested when one of the parties wishes to alter their name as it appears on their identification or file to receive a marriage certificate. For the divorce parties, it is easy to access this document. Members of the public may be required to apply and be charged a fee when attempting to obtain a divorce certificate.
What are New Jersey Divorce Decrees?
Divorce decrees are a bit more specific than divorce certificates because they include the names, date and location, plus the final judgement and agreements in a divorce case. This includes but is not limited to custody arrangements, property allocation, alimony payments, child support, and agreements surrounding scheduling issues. When one of the parties seeks to change something within the document, a divorce decree should be requested. Divorce decrees cannot be accessed through the New Jersey Vital Records Office, but instead are made available by the Superior Court of New Jersey Records Center.
What are New Jersey Divorce Records?
A divorce record serves as the case file for a New Jersey dissolution case. It contains all the information listed previously, but also includes every record, document, and transcript generated throughout a dissolution case. Both parties are given a copy of this record and advised to keep it, just in case they later wish to alter it in some way. Dissolution records are considered New Jersey public records, but access requires submission of an application along with the required fees.
Are New Jersey Divorce Records Public?
The State of New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA) P.L. 2001, c. 404 states the right for members of the public to access records that are considered public and requirements for the process of accessing them. This document is lengthy, so the state also provides a User’s Guide to the Open Public Records Act to outline the act in a more comprehensible way. To access a divorce record, the New Jersey State Vital Records Office is not an option. Instead, it is necessary to acquire these documents from the Superior Court of New Jersey Records Center or the Court Clerk from where the case was heard. To gather more information on obtaining a certain divorce record, call the Records Center at (609) 421-6100.
To Access Through the Superior Court of New Jersey Records Center
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.
If a dissolution case file is not accessible through the county clerk in the county where the divorce was finalized, it may be necessary to obtain a divorce record through the Superior Court of New Jersey Records Center, first make sure that the divorce occurred long ago that it will be archived there instead of kept at the County Clerk’s Office. To find this out, make sure to have access to the year the divorce was finalized, along with the county where it was finalized. The most efficient way to obtain a divorce record from the Records Center is to visit in person at
Clerk of the Superior Court Public Information Center
171 Jersey Street
P.O. Box 967
Trenton, NJ 08625-0967
The cost of one copy of a divorce record from the Superior Court of New Jersey Records Center is $10.00. Make sure to have a check or money order payable to the New Jersey Clerk of the Superior Court.
To Access Through the County Court Clerk
If a divorce record is not available through the To access a divorce record through the Superior Court of New Jersey Records Center, it’s likely that it may still be maintained at the county clerk’s office. To obtain a divorce record through the county clerk, visit the website of the county where the divorce was finalized. For example, if someone wishes to access a divorce record from Bergen County after the year 2015, they would need to visit the Bergen County website. This is a similar process with most New Jersey county websites. Essex County, for instance, has a webpage called OPRA Request. Hudson County offers a request form to be signed and submitted by fax or email to the address on the form. These portals allow for records to be regulated and dispersed in a more efficient way and without time limits. It is recommended when beginning a search that this be the first destination, as it can help narrow the options available.
Can New Jersey Divorce Records Be Sealed?
In accordance with section 47:1A-5 of the State of New Jersey Open Public Records Act, The court records custodian is in charge of redacting specific information from government records before allowing others to access them. If a record includes social security number, credit card number, phone number, or driver’s license number, that information will be redacted before access. Other grounds for redaction include protecting the identity of minors or protecting the identity and details about a victim of domestic violence or abuse of any kind. If the record does not include these details, both parties involved in the divorce are required to agree to sealing a record or redacting certain sections of it. Oftentimes, it is easier to redact certain information than to completely seal a record that is deemed public.
Does New Jersey Recognize Common-Law Marriages?
Following the passage of a law in 1939, common-law marriages in New Jersey are not recognized. Relationships formed after 1939 must have an official marriage certificate and a ceremony that complies with New Jersey law to be recognized legally. Common-law partners cannot obtain the same rights as married couples in New Jersey just by cohabiting for a specified period of time. For example, special regulations permit divorced spouses to receive alimony if they meet specific criteria. On the other hand, common-law partners are not eligible for financial assistance under the same legal framework. Additionally, the “equitable distribution” statutes that govern property allocation in divorce do not apply to property division between cohabiting common-law couples.