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How to Find a Divorce Record in Ohio

When two married people decide to annul, reverse, or else repeal their marriage, this is called a divorce. Courts have been open in most Ohio counties to handle divorce cases since 1914. In 1954, the state legislature passed the Ohio Open Records Act, which stated that citizens had the constitutional right to obtain court records at any time they wanted. The first step when acquiring a divorce record in the state of Ohio is to visit either the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) or the county clerk office in the particular county where the divorce happened. These government bodies are in charge of revising and maintaining these records, as well as satisfying in-person and by-mail requests for these documents. There are three ways to record a dissolution of marriage, and discernment of the differences between the three will save time when requesting to obtain these records.

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 is an Ohio Divorce Certificate?

    Divorce certificates contain the smallest amount of information relative to the other types of divorce documents and are one of the most frequently petitioned types of records in the state of Ohio. Divorce certificates hold general information concerning the marriage and the divorce. Divorce certificates are filed with the ODH and are most often requested when one of the involved parties wants to either begin the procedure to legally change their name, or register for a new marriage certificate in order to get married. In Ohio, divorce certificates are considered public record. They can be viewed by any member of the public if they have the correct information. Certified copies, however, are only available to the parties involved in the divorce or any legal guardians of those children.

  • What is an Ohio Divorce Decree?

    The Ohio Bureau of Vital Statistics doesn’t keep copies of divorce decrees, but they do keep abstracts which are less specific and contain very general information. A divorce decree serves as a statement of the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved in the divorce. These rights and responsibilities include but are not limited to property allocation, agreements about which party will pay insurance, division of debt, custody of children, and child and spousal support. Usually divorce decrees are requested by one of the divorced parties when they wish to reevaluate or change the requirements within the document. Divorce decrees are available for purchase by either party, their lawyers, and by anybody with a court order from the State of Ohio.

  • What is an Ohio Divorce Record?

    Divorce records in the State of Ohio contains all the information that can be found in divorce certificates and divorce decrees, and also includes all testimonies, evidence, transcripts of proceedings, and all documents, judgements, and terms decided by the judge when the case is concluded. If attempting to obtain these records through traditional government bodies, most departments will require a specific level of clearance and fees. Typically, these are only available to the parties involved in the divorce, and their legal advisors.

How to Search Through the Ohio Department of Health

Members of the public can obtain vital records with a variety of delivery methods, including the US Postal Service, walk-in appointments at state, city or municipal offices, or online. The county clerk’s office is usually the appropriate authority to speak to about obtaining a vital record. Search fees in Ohio are typically $21.50 with a 1 hour turnaround time, while mail and online methods can take between 3 and 6 weeks.

Ohio Department of Health
Vital Statistics
225 Neilston Street
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 466-2531

How to Search Through the Ohio County Clerk

Finding these records through traditional government bodies is possible for parties who were involved in the divorce. Two types of divorce records are accessible this way: certified and abstract. Abstracts are brief forms that contain a very limited amount of information taken from the original marriage licenses or divorce decrees.

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.

A certified copy of a divorce record can be obtained by:

  • The requester, or the parent or legal guardian of the registrant
  • The child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, spouse or domestic partner of the registrant
  • The party entitled to receive the record as result of a court order
  • A member of a law enforcement agency or representative of a government agency who is conducting official business

The office of the clerk will, in most cases, have a hard copy of the file in question. Copies can be made at government buildings that hold the record by using provided photocopiers. This is not a certified divorce record, and there is no central database for marriage or divorce records that can provide certified copies online. All marriage records are held by the county court where the marriage license was granted. Divorce records are held by the local county clerk of court. The office of vital statistics can search and issue general certificates for a $3 with a delivery time of 3 to 6 weeks. The Ohio Clerk of Courts Association is divided into 8 regions throughout the state and includes each of the 88 county clerks. The Ohio Clerk of Courts Association provides a directory of the different counties and the county clerks within them. To access a certified copy of a divorce record, fill out an Application for Certified Copies available online and submit by mail, email, fax, or in-person.

To Search for Ohio Divorce Records Online

Ohio state does not possess a central online database to search for divorce and marriage records. Instead, it is necessary to find in which Ohio county the divorce transpired, and visit the official county website for that specific county. For example, if the requesting party is searching for information regarding a divorce that was finalized in Cuyahoga County, visit the Cuyahoga County Clerks of Court website. Other examples include Hamilton County, Franklin County. This is the standard method for searching for every county clerk in Ohio.

Does Ohio Recognize Common-Law Marriage?

The state of Ohio only recognizes common-law marriages that have been validly entered prior to October 1991 or common-law marriages that are protected by other states’ laws. Common-law marriage refers to a practice in which a couple cohabits for a period and is known by family, friends and their community to be married, even though they have no marriage license or have had no formal ceremony to celebrate their marriage. In the United States, common-law marriages technically exist in 10 states and the District of Columbia, while five states recognize common-law marriages with restrictions.