The definition of divorce is the dissolution of marriage. When a legally married couple decides to unwind their marriage, a divorce takes place.
In Missouri, getting a divorce falls under the jurisdiction of the family court. The family court is a division of Missouri Civil Courts.
There are three official ways a government body records a divorce:
- Divorce certificates
- Divorce decrees
- Full divorce records
All these involve varying amounts of information used for separate legal actions. Being sure of the differences among the three empowers one to save time.
Divorce records are how a court records and categorizes a divorce. It is sometimes possible to search divorce records on public websites maintained by third parties.
Divorce records often contain information about finances, minors, and sensitive criminal matters such as domestic abuse. Hence, the availability of divorce decrees, certificates, and records is much lower than the other types of public records. That is because divorces are personal in nature.
- Missouri Divorce Certificates
A divorce certificate in Missouri is a general document stating that a divorce took place. It contains the names of the two people who got divorced and details such as the date, time, and place the divorce took place.
A Missouri Divorce Certificate will be required when one of the involved parties intends to change their name. Similarly, if either of the involved parties wants to get a new marriage certificate, the Missouri Divorce Certificate is required.
Unless so specified by court order, a Missouri divorce certificate is public record. Anyone can view it after sharing a valid request form along with the other necessary information.
- Missouri Divorce Decree
A divorce decree is a more detailed document compared to a divorce certificate. All information included in a Missouri divorce certificate is also included in a Missouri divorce decree. Additionally, a divorce decree contains all agreements and judgments concluded in the divorce proceedings. Such judgments may include child support, child custody, alimony, insurance responsibilities, and property allocation.
- Missouri Divorce Records
The most detailed divorce papers among the three categories mentioned above are divorce records. Missouri Divorce Records will include all information included in divorce certificates and decrees, such as names, location, dates, and judgments. Additionally, divorce records include all files, documents, testimonies, and transcripts generated during the proceedings.
A judge signs the divorce records and gives them a case number. Hence, for a divorce, they act as a case file. If a judge does not seal these records, they stay searchable by members of the public. But typically, a judge will seal the divorce records.
Will a Missouri Divorce Record be a Public Record?
A large number of divorce records in Missouri are maintained at the Bureau of Vital Records. A party that requires divorce records can come across certified and more detailed divorce records if they get in touch with the Court Clerk of the county where the divorce was finalized.
As per the Missouri Sunshine Law, all family court records, including divorce records, are legally accessible to the public at all times. But several divorce cases are sensitive in nature, wherein abuse and minor children are involved. Therefore, there are cases where these records remain sealed. They are not available for access by the lawyers of the involved parties or state representatives.
A few of the details that deem a record confidential or sealed include:
- Any information that the parties request to be sealed
- Mental health evaluation or public welfare reports
- All personal information about juveniles or minor children
- All information about victims of abuse, domestic violence, or assault
- Personal financial information about any of the parties
Tools are available for court record searches at third-party websites for public records or portals for public record searches run by the government. But the available records may vary from one case to another. In some cases, divorce records may not be available at either source.
How Does One Obtain Divorce Records in Missouri?
There are several ways to access divorce records in Missouri. Let us take a look at the procedure to access divorce certificates that are un-certified through Missouri State Vital Records:
- Figure out if the divorce took place after 1st July 1948
- If such is the case, submit or mail the Dissolution of marriage record request form to the Bureau of Vital Records
- Along with the request, include a money order or check for $15. It should be made payable to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
- A signature and photo identification will be required. If you mail the request form, the document must be notarized on the same date the request form is mailed.
Another way of obtaining detailed divorce records is through the court clerk in the county where the divorce took place. The request forms will vary, but the pricing for these copies is $15.
Missouri Divorce Records can be Ordered by Mail
For this procedure, the requesting party should make the necessary divorce record requests available. It should include a photocopy of the valid identification and the correct fees. If any additional documentation is required, an extra request form and additional fees may apply.
If the desired record was finalized before 1948, or if the requesting party wants a certified copy, they should contact the court clerk in the county where the divorce took place. The typical wait time for mail-in requests is 8-12 weeks.
In-person Ordering for Missouri Divorce Records
To request a divorce certificate in person, one must visit the Bureau of Vital Records at the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services in Jefferson City, Missouri.
The office is not open on federal holidays. Walk-in hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., from Monday to Friday. Typically, if the requests are made in-person by 3 p.m., they can be fulfilled on the same day. There is no need for a notary when photo identification, fees, and all necessary documents are available from the requesting party.
Is it Possible to Get Missouri Divorce Records Online?
Accessing Missouri Divorce Records online is possible. But online records may have fewer details. It is likely to contain only the information that is available in the divorce certification. Many people think that online divorce is an opportunity to dissolve a marriage via the Internet and get a divorce decree online. This is a misconception. Even though online divorce has many significant advantages, it does not allow you to get a divorce decree. The essence of online divorce is the preparation of the forms required for the court. Online divorce is a great opportunity to save money and get quality papers for an uncontested divorce.