How to Find a Divorce Record in Minnesota
Divorce is also referred to as marriage dissolution. It happens when two people who are married legally decide to reverse this decision. The court then records this decision and calls it a “dissolution of marriage”. The Minnesota Office of Vital Records does not maintain dissolution of marriage records. These records are held, maintained, and disseminated by the county district court where the divorce was finalized. There are three forms that the court considers for a divorce, and the requesting party should be vigilant of the differences between them to save time and money when attempting to obtain them.
Divorce records are considered court records, and 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 records, certificates, and decree availability are 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.
Are Divorce Records Public in Minnesota?
Minnesota divorce records are all around considered public records. This means that any member of the public can gain access to them by mail or in person at the Family Court courthouse, where the divorce was heard and concluded. However, many divorce records end up being sealed by the courts due to the sensitive information within them, so not everybody can search divorce records in Minnesota. Many divorce records are public, but there are restrictions through the Minnesota Rules of Public Access that name specific records of these courts confidential. Information in records that are not considered public information are:
- Records and details of adoptions
- Information about victims of domestic violence abuse
- Mental health and psychological evaluations by medical professionals
- Information about child custody or any information regarding minor children
What is a Divorce Certificate?
A divorce certificate is considered a public record but is usually only accessible to the involved parties along with their attorneys and the judge that presided over the case. It is the least detailed of the three types of Minnesota divorce records. A divorce certificate only holds information regarding the parties' names, a divorce agreement, a divorce paper, and when and where the divorce happened. Typically, one of the involved parties may request this document when they wish to change their name or request a marriage license.
What is a Divorce Decree?
A divorce decree is a slightly more detailed account of a divorce. It includes a divorce petition, a divorce paper, and everything that is held in a divorce certificate, but also all of the judgments and agreements made by the end of the divorce process. The purpose of this document is to outline all rights and responsibilities of both parties, including child custody agreements, financial agreements, and allocation of property. This is certified, signed by a judge, and given a case number. Individuals can find a divorce decree online because it is a public record.
What is a Divorce Record?
A divorce record is the most complete divorce document because it holds dissolution of marriage records, original divorce papers, divorce documents, and everything mentioned above. It also contains every single document or transcript created during the divorce court proceedings. This acts as the case file for a divorce record and may be difficult for members of the public to access without proper justification and proof of eligibility. These records are often requested when one of the parties wishes to challenge the agreements listed within them. Due to this, it is suggested by attorneys that the parties hold on to these documents for their records. Only the parties involved can access full, certified copies of these records.
How to Obtain Minnesota Divorce Records
Minnesota District Courts have Records centers that maintain copies of divorce and other court records.
- Find the District Clerk in the county where the divorce was heard and concluded.
- Some courts also have Records offices, and the requesting party must determine which office they will visit. Both may have sought-after records.
- Visit the Minnesota District Court website to find out what documents and steps are needed to acquire a divorce certificate.
- Be prepared to pay a fee depending on the type of document requested.
- Contact the court to find their hours, and ask if they accept walk-ins or mail-in requests
- Submit a completed request form, including all fees and identification necessary for proof of identity.
What Do I Need to Access Minnesota Divorce Records?
There are multiple steps requesting parties must take to obtain a Minnesota divorce record. The request form used to obtain divorce certificates and decrees vary from county to county, but generally, requesting parties will need to provide:
- Case Number
- Requesting party’s full name
- Date divorce was filed
- Date divorce was finalized
- Phone number, email address, or other contact information
- Photocopy of valid identification
Government public record search portals and third-party public record websites may provide court records search tools, which can help find divorce records, though record availability usually varies widely. Divorce records, in particular, may not be available through either source.
How to Obtain Minnesota Divorce Records by Mail and In-Person
To access divorce records held in Minnesota courts, reach out to the local Minnesota District Court in the county where the divorce occurred. It may be necessary to call and make an appointment before meeting with the custodian in person. It is always possible to fill out a request form with the necessary fees and mail it to the District Court.
How to Find Public Divorce Records Online
There is no state portal to search divorce records and other family records in Minnesota, although certain county courts in the state may have their portals to search through. Due to the nature of divorce records, full copies and original divorce papers may be difficult to acquire. It is necessary to visit or contact the courthouse where the divorce happened.
What is the Cost of Obtaining Minnesota Divorce Records
The cost of Minnesota divorce records varies depending on whether the requesting party is requesting a certified or uncertified copy. Uncertified copies cost a fee of $8 for each printed copy. Certified records cost $14 for each certified copy.
Does Minnesota Recognize Common-Law Marriage?
The state of Minnesota does not recognize common law marriage as stated in the law, which was passed in 1941. However, the state may recognize common law marriages, which have been done in other jurisdictions where none of the marriage participants are underaged or closely related. Couples who choose to wed under common law in another state before moving to Minnesota can have their marriage recognized by a Minnesota court and enjoy the advantages of a legal marriage. For these common law marriages to be recognized, however, couples must be capable of marrying, cohabiting for a long period, and presenting themselves as husband and wife.
How to Find Out if Someone is Divorced in Minnesota
Publicly available divorce records are also managed and disseminated by some third-party aggregate sites. These sites are generally not limited by geographical record availability and may serve as a reliable jump-off point when researching specific or multiple records. However, third-party sites are not government-sponsored. As such, record availability may differ from official channels. The requesting party will be required to provide the following information to find a record using the search engines on third party sites:
- The location of the record in question, including the city, county, or state where the case was filed.
- The name of someone involved, providing it is not a juvenile.