Divorce records are essential documents for various legal, personal, and genealogical purposes. If you’re seeking access to California divorce records, this comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to obtain these records smoothly and efficiently.

California Divorce Records

California divorce records are vital legal documents that document the dissolution of a marriage. They contain crucial details, including the names of the parties involved, the divorce date, grounds for divorce, child custody arrangements, and more. These records serve a multitude of purposes, from verifying marital status to conducting background checks and tracing family history.

Types of California Divorce Records

California divorce records can be broadly categorized into two types: public and confidential.

Public Divorce Records Public divorce records are accessible to anyone and can be obtained through the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) or the Superior Court in the relevant county. The process involves submitting a request, paying a fee, and awaiting the retrieval of the records.

Confidential Divorce Records Confidential divorce records, on the other hand, are restricted and require a court order for access. They are typically accessible only to specific individuals with a direct interest, such as the parties involved or their attorneys. We’ll delve into the eligibility criteria and the steps involved in obtaining these records in detail.

How to Access Public Divorce Records?

Accessing public divorce records in California is relatively straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Identify the County: Determine the county where the divorce was filed, as this will be the jurisdiction where you need to request the records.
  • Contact the Superior Court: Reach out to the Superior Court in that specific county. You can often find contact information on their official website.
  • Request the Records: Submit a request for the divorce records, either online or by mail, as per the court’s instructions. Be prepared to pay a nominal fee.
  • Wait for Processing: The court will process your request, and you’ll receive the records once they are ready.

Accessing Confidential Divorce Records

Accessing confidential divorce records is a more complex process and typically requires obtaining a court order from a California Superior Court. Here’s how it works:

  • Determine Eligibility: You must establish that you have a direct interest in the confidential divorce records. This usually means you are one of the parties involved or have a legal reason to access the records.
  • Consult an Attorney: It’s advisable to consult an attorney who specializes in family law to assist you with the process.
  • File a Motion: Your attorney will help you file a motion with the relevant Superior Court. This motion will request permission to access the confidential records.
  • Court Review: The court will review your motion and determine whether you meet the eligibility criteria and have a legitimate reason to access the records.
  • Wait for Approval: If your motion is approved, you will receive the court order necessary to access the confidential divorce records.

Useful Tips and Resources

To streamline your search for California divorce records, consider these practical tips:

  • Online Databases: Some counties provide online access to public divorce records, which can save time and effort.
  • Contact CDPH: For certified copies or additional assistance, you can contact the California Department of Public Health.
  • Be Patient: Processing times may vary, so be patient while awaiting your requested records.


Can I access California divorce records for free?

While some public divorce records may be accessible for free on county Superior Court websites, expect to pay a fee for certified copies or assistance from the California Department of Public Health.

How long does it take to obtain confidential divorce records through a court order?

The processing time for confidential divorce records varies but typically takes several weeks. Delays in the court system or additional documentation requirements may extend the process.

Can I access divorce records from other states in California?

No, you will need to request divorce records from the specific state where the divorce occurred, as each state has its own rules and procedures for access.