What are Georgia Divorce Records?
Georgia divorce records are documents that prove that divorce was finalized between two parties in a competent court. In Georgia, there are8.1 divorces per every 1,000 women above 15 years of age. According to the 2010 Georgia Code § 19–5–3, there are 13 grounds for which a couple can be divorced in the State. These include:
- Mental illness
- Pregnancy of the wife by another man during a marriage
- Willful desertion
- Incurable insanity
- Spouse’s lack of mental capacity to consent
- Inhuman treatment that endangers the life of the spouse
- Alcoholism or drug addiction
- Habitual drunkenness
- Imprisonment/conviction for over two years for a crime that involves moral turpitude
- Marriage consent was obtained under duress, by force, or fraud
A marriage in Georgia can be ended in three possible ways. Which are:
- Dissolution of marriage
An annulment can be filed if any of the parties in the marriage believe the marriage should not have taken place in the first instance. In essence, the said marriage should not have been contracted in the light of the prevailing law. Common reasons that support annulment are bigamy, incest, and instances where one of the parties was not up to the legal age of marriage. A dissolution of marriage and divorce can only be filed to end a legally contracted marriage.
A divorce can be contested and uncontested. An uncontested divorce is the quickest form of divorce. In this case, the parties would decide on how family assets and responsibilities will be divided, taking cognizance of salient issues such as alimony, child support, name change, etc. Once these have been agreed, and the requisite Divorce Agreement has been signed, the court can finalize the divorce. This usually takes about 31 days.
A contested divorce is one in which both parties can not agree on one or more issues in the divorce. In such instances, the parties must opt for litigation to ensure the divorce is settled fairly. This type of divorce usually takes more than six months and cost a lot, especially with the hiring of attorneys. Irrespective of how a marriage is ended, the records of termination are maintained by the Clerk of Superior Court.
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 Georgia?
Georgia divorce records are public records under the Georgia Open Records Act. It means that the records can be requested by interested members of the public with sufficient information to search for the records. This statute applies to all types of divorce records in the State that were not sealed by a competent court.
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 Georgia?
The State of Georgia has three types of divorce records, which are
- Divorce decrees
- Divorce case files
- Divorce verification
A divorce decree is a document that contains the final judgment of a divorce. It also contains the terms of settlement of the divorce, including issues such as alimony, asset division, child support, visitation, and other information. This record is maintained by the Clerk of the Superior Court of the county where the divorce was finalized.
Divorce case files, on the other hand, contain details of the divorce proceedings, including the divorce petition, motions, summons, papers, and every other document that was used in the entire divorce litigation. This record is vital for any of the divorce parties who seeks to challenge the final judgment of the divorce.
Divorce verification is a document that serves as proof that two persons are legally divorced by a competent court. It contains the names of the parties, the date the divorce was granted, and where it was granted. Divorce verifications are maintained by the State Office of Vital Records.
How Do I Get Divorce Records in Georgia?
The means of obtaining a divorce record depends mainly on the type of record under consideration. It also varies according to the county involved. Records that are maintained at the state level can be obtained:
- By mail
The only divorce record that is maintained at the state level is divorce verification. The Vital Records Office of the Georgia Department of Public Health handles divorce verifications of divorces that occurred between June 1952 and August 1996. For divorces that occurred outside of this time frame, the divorce verification can only be obtained from the Clerk of Superior Court of the particular county where the divorce was finalized.
To obtain a divorce verification from the State Office of Vital Records, complete the Request for Search of Divorce Verification form. The State Office of Vital Records charges $10 for each certified copy of a divorce verification and $5 for each additional copy.
Acceptable payment options are money order or certified check payable to the State Office of Vital Records. In-person requests can also explore other payment options such as MasterCard, Visa, cash, or debit card.
For mail-requests, forward the completed Request for Search of Divorce Verification form, a copy or a government, employer, or school-issued photo ID with the means of payment to:
State Office of Vital Records
1680 Phoenix Boulevard, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30349
The request will be processed within eight to ten weeks. For in-person requests, visit the State Office of Vital Records or any County Vital Records Office with the completed request form, photo ID, and applicable fee. In-person requests have a faster response time; a divorce verification can be processed the same day. Here is a list of different County Offices across the State.
To obtain a divorce decree or divorce case files, visit the Clerk of Superior Court office of the county where the divorce was granted. The requirement and fees are not the same across all counties.
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 Georgia?
Georgia divorce records are public records and can be requested by any interested member of the public. However, applicants must present a valid form of identification.
The same form of identification applies when requesting a divorce decree or divorce case files at the county level. Nonetheless, some counties may not precisely ask for any of these.
Are Georgia Divorce Records available online?
There is no central portal at the state level for requesting for any divorce record in Georgia. However, the State Office of Vital Records has a website where Request for Search of Divorce Verification form can be downloaded. This form should be printed and submitted in person or by mail.
Divorce decree and divorce case files, on the other hand, can only be obtained at the county level. As such, there is no central online repository where they can be requested. Large counties like Fulton County have an online portal for requesting other vital records like birth, death, and marriage certificates. But divorce decrees and divorce case files can not be requested online through the portal.
How Do I seal My Divorce Records in Georgia?
Georgia’s divorce records are public records that are generally accessible to the general public. As such, sealing of divorce records is uncommon. However, judges have broad discretion when such requests are raised during divorce proceedings.
The court has to compare the privacy interest of the parties involved in the divorce and the interests of the general public to access the records as stipulated by law. If the court deems it fit that the harm such a record will inflict on the parties if made public, outweighs the public interest, then the judge may order certain parts of the divorce records to be sealed.
Instances, where a court could order a divorce record to be sealed, include case files that involve the sexual abuse of a minor, as stipulated in the 2014 Georgia Code § 15–11–701. The court can also seal a record to protect business proprietary information. Whichever the case, the attorneys of the parties are to make the demand of the court. If the party is appearing pro se, then the party can make the demand directly.