Are Divorce Records Public?
There are certain events in a person’s life that must be recorded by the state as part of its public and vital records. These records which include a child’s birth, a marriage, a divorce, and a person’s death, are reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health. There are many reasons why such records are public records available to the public.
Apart from establishing a person’s existence and right to citizenship, these records also protect their individual identity. They are also necessary to access benefits such as a social security number, enrolling in school, and other benefits based on a person’s identity. Unlike the other life events, the dissolution of a marriage often involves the disclosure of very personal information to the courts. While a public record of births, marriages, and deaths may be innocuous, a public record of divorce proceedings may contain information that could be damaging to one or both of the parties involved. This is why some people opt to keep the details of their divorce private.
How To Look Up Divorce Records In Illinois
Looking Up Divorce Records
What Are Divorce Decrees?
A divorce decree is an order of the court that formally terminates a marriage. It is an order of the court, which is granted by a judge and filed by the circuit clerk in the county where the divorce was granted. Record of the divorce decree is public information and any member of the public seeking to verify a divorce decree can do so through through an application to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
How to Get a Copy of a Divorce Decree
While a Verification of Dissolution of Marriage/Civil Union can be obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health, a request for a certified copy of the divorce records is handled by the the circuit court clerk in the county where the divorce was granted. A party to a divorce may need a certified copy of their divorce records for legal purposes such as the application for a new marriage license.
How to Get an Illinois Divorce Record
Divorce records are also court records held by the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the divorce proceedings took place. Divorce records can include the details of the divorce case including private information about the grounds for divorce, the name and age of children of the marriage, the occupation of the parties, child support and custody orders, and spousal support orders. However, social security numbers are excluded from court cases.
How Can I keep My Divorce in Illinois Private?
The proceedings of a divorce can involve very private matters that you may want to keep out of the public’s reach. In contentious divorce cases, orders such as spousal support, division of property, and child custody are based on evidence made available to the judge. Intimate details of a person’s finances or their personality may be made public as each party submits evidence in support of their position. While the fact of your divorce must be made public, the details of your divorce can be kept private and Illinois law allows you to do so.
Common Qualifying Reasons to Seal Divorce Records in Illinois
Keeping your divorce private requires a court order that the records be sealed. This is not an automatic process. The default position in Illinois is that all records and files required to be kept by the circuit court clerks are public records that can be accessed by the public at all times. This is because the law recognizes the public’s interest in monitoring how the courts function and transparency in judicial proceedings.
The court also recognizes that the public’s right to access such information is not absolute. There are instances where a party may seek an order of the court to limit the public’s access to the details in their case. The party seeking to seal their divorce records must show that:
there is a compelling interest to do so, such as protecting the best interests of a child involved or protecting the personal safety of the party requesting the order; and
the protective order is drafted in the least restrictive manner possible.
The court must find a balance between the requesting party’s right to privacy and the public’s right to access court proceedings.
FAQs About Look Up Divorce Records In Illinois
Can You Find Divorce Records Online?
Although there are some states where divorce records can be accessed online, in Illinois, a request must be made either through the Illinois Department of Public Health or the circuit court in the county in which the divorce was granted.
Can I Get Illinois Divorce Records Online For Free?
No. You cannot get divorce records online for free. You can get a Dissolution of Marriage Verification from the Illinois Department of Public Health for a $5 fee. All request must be made by mail, fax, or in person. To get a certified copy of a divorce record, you must make a request to the circuit court clerk in the county in which the divorce was granted. Each county has its own rules, which may be accessible online.
Will Either Divorcee Be Notified If I Look Up Their Divorce Records?
No. Neither divorcee will be notified if you exercise your right to access their public divorce records.
How Attorneys with Petrelli Previtera Can Help
If you are contemplating a divorce in Illinois and you want the details of your divorce case to remain private, you should speak to a divorce attorney for information about the law and how an attorney can help you. Petrelli Previtera has offices in Chicago and Schaumburg, IL with attorneys available by appointment to answer questions about the divorce process.