Florida Court Records
What are Florida Divorce Records?
Florida divorce records are documents that contain details of a divorce, such as where and when a divorce was granted and other necessary information. These are court or vital records issued by the state of Florida for the purpose of documentation and preservation. There are 8.0 divorces per thousand women that are above 15 years old in Florida.
Florida is a no-fault divorce state that permits either party to seek a divorce without providing any concrete reason for it. Primarily, there are two grounds for getting a divorce in Florida, these include
- An irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
- The mental incapacity of one of the partners
Once the parties conclude requirements for the dissolution of a marriage, the judge signs a legal document indicating the termination of the union. The document is the record of the divorce. It is filed with the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court. It takes between three and 24 months to finalize a divorce, depending on whether it is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce takes an average of 3 months, while a contested divorce takes an average of 12 months.
The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved, and it is recommended that those parties maintain these records with care in order to make changes in the future. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.
Are Divorce Records Public in Florida?
In accordance with the Public Records Act (PRA) in Florida, divorce records are available to the general public. This statute allows the public to access and make copies of available divorce records in the state. Divorce records that are sealed or expunged by court order may not be available to the public. However, in most cases, Florida does not grant the sealing of divorce records, and when it does, the records would not be sealed entirely but redacted.
When a divorce process is finalized, the court releases the divorce records to the state. Similar to other court records, divorce case information is accessible to the public. Persons that seek divorce records may obtain copies of the record from the office of the Circuit Court’s Clerk in the county where the divorce was filed.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
What are the types of Divorce Records available in Florida?
Divorce Decree and Divorce Certificate are the types of Divorce Records available in the State of Florida. Divorce court case files may also count as divorce records and are easier to find than the others. These files include all records of divorce court proceedings such as filed evidence, testimonies, transcripts of court proceedings, and any document containing motion. Other inclusions are verdicts, probationary clauses, terms of shared child-custody, protective orders or similar agreements, stipulated financial entitlements and allowances. They are maintained by the Clerk of Circuit Court, where divorce proceedings took place.
A Divorce Decree is a court document that contains the final declaration of the judge’s dissolution of a marriage. It is issued after divorce court proceedings when the court makes a final decision that is binding on both parties. A divorce decree incorporates details of agreed terms and conditions. These include shared child custody, division of assets and debts, child support, the rights and responsibilities of each party to the other after divorce, and other related information. This document is only available to the involved parties and the lawyers who were present during the divorce proceedings.
A Divorce Certificate is a document issued by the Bureau of Vital Statistics office of the Florida Department of Health. It establishes that a divorce was granted on a specific date. Other information on the certification includes the names of the parties involved, the date the divorce was finalized, the venue where the divorce was finalized, and the court case number. Divorce certificates are accessible by the parties involved in the divorce and the attorneys who participated in divorce proceedings.
How Do I Get Divorce Records in Florida?
Divorce records are available to the public and may be accessed by authorized persons. Authorized persons include the actual parties involved and the legal practitioners that were a part of the divorce proceedings. In Florida, divorce records may be obtained through any of these means;
- By mail-in request to the Clerk of the Circuit Court where the divorce was finalized
- Walk-in request to the office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court
- Online via the website of the Clerk of the Circuit Court
A nominal fee may apply during the process of each request. This processing fee varies from county to county and the channel through which the request is made. Address and contact information of all Circuit Courts in Florida is available online on the Florida Circuit Court website.
The Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics also provides copies of Florida divorce certificates. It has records dated as far back as June 6, 1927. The process of request involves the payment of a $5 fee or $10 to expedite the request. An extra $4 may be paid for additional certified copies in the same order. Where the exact year is unknown, a search fee of $2 per calendar year may apply.
Requests may be delivered to the Bureau of Vital Statistics either in person or by mail. Either way, it is necessary to complete the Application for Dissolution of Marriage form and submit it together with the required fee. Generally, the processing time is between 3 to 5 working days, excluding shipping time. Note, records prior to 1970 require additional processing time. For rush orders, the requesters are required to indicate ‘RUSH’ outside the envelope for the sake of identification.
Walk-in requests may be submitted at 1217 N Pearl Street, Jacksonville, FL 32202. Business hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. While mail-in orders are forwarded to the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics, P. O. Box 210, Jacksonville, Fl 32231–0042.
Requestors may pay in the form of cash, money order, check, or card (Visa and Mastercard) for walk-in orders. Mail-in orders require a check or money order made payable to ‘Vital Statistics.’
While divorce and marriage records may be searched through government sources and organizations, the availability of these documents cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these entities are not government-sponsored; therefore, record availability may vary further.
Also note that marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information the records contain, and are often sealed. Hence, bearing in mind that these factors determine the availability of any type of marriage or divorce record.
Who Can Obtain Divorce Records in Florida?
Copies of Florida divorce records containing non-confidential information can be requested and obtained by the general public. However, authorized copies containing confidential information such as Divorce Decrees and Certificates can only be obtained by;
- The parties involved in the divorce case
- The attorneys to the parties involved in the divorce
Are Florida Divorce Records available online?
Divorce case files are the kind records obtainable online in Florida. These records are available via a request portal available on the website of the counties that provide such service. Note, these records are provides redacted divorce information. The information includes the filing date for the divorce, the names of the separated couple, the name of the county court, and the divorce case number. It does not include detailed information on the terms and conditions that apply when a divorce case is finalized.
How Do I Seal My Divorce Records in Florida?
The request to seal a divorce record in Florida begins with filing a motion and affidavit with the court. Here, both parties appeal to the court, revealing the damage that the divorce may cause to their reputations, children, finances, and career if the records are not sealed from public view. If the request is granted, the whole divorce record may not be sealed, but only the sections that contain confidential or private information will be sealed.
After the appeal to seal a divorce record has been approved, the judge will send a written order to the Bureau of Vital Statistics office to have the record sealed from public access.