Tennessee divorce records are generally a matter of public record. A divorce search can be performed to locate records from any divorce or annulment that occurred after records were kept. Public record divorce documents are a valuable resource if you are performing a genealogical study. While you can search divorce records for informational purposes, you cannot use divorce documents from a public record archive for any official purpose. If you need a copy of divorce certificate papers for a legal reason, then make sure to obtain a certified copy instead. A Tennessee divorce decree copy can be obtained from the court where a divorce was filed from the state Office of Vital Records or from other government archives. Below, learn how to find divorce records by performing a search and how to get a copy of divorce papers for your own official use.
Where to Get a Tennessee Divorce Decree Copy
You can find divorce records in Tennessee in several different locations. Marriage and divorce records from recent years are stored in the Tennessee Office of Vital Records for a period of 50 years. After 50 years have passed, decree of divorce records are transferred to the Tennessee State Library and Archives. It should be noted that divorce certificate records were not kept on a state level until the year 1945. If you need to find divorce decrees from earlier than 1945, then the record may be located by contacting the local court that handled the case. Some divorce records may also contain court minutes that you can obtain for an additional fee. TN divorce decrees from earlier than 1945 may also be held in the State Library and Archives as well, even though state-wide records were not officially collected before that year. Even though a divorce record search allows you to obtain a copy of divorce decree documentation in Tennessee, you cannot get an official copy for all files.
How do I get a copy of my divorce papers in Tennessee?
You can get a copy of a Tennessee divorce decree for any public record divorce by searching state and local archives. However, if you are wondering how to get divorce papers from your own divorce case, then you will have to apply for a certified copy of divorce decree papers. Certified divorce decrees come with a raised, embossed seal and can be used as a legal document. Your divorce papers can be used when you apply to change your name at the Social Security Administration or at the Driver Services department. A certified copy of your divorce decree is also necessary to make legal changes to property and assets that you held jointly with your former spouse. A plain copy of a TN divorce certificate usually does not suffice for legal applications.
If your divorce record is stored in the Tennessee Office of Vital Records or the State Library and Archives, then you may follow the application procedures for those locations in the sections below.
How to Get a Copy of Divorce Decree from Tennessee Vital Records
You are eligible to get a copy of divorce decree papers from the Tennessee Office of Vital Records if you are a person named on the divorce certificate or the parent, guardian or child of someone named on the certificate. If you are an eligible applicant, then you can fill out an Application for Certified Copy of Certificate of Divorce or Annulment, which includes the following information:
- The name of both former spouses
- The date and location of the divorce
- Your relationship to the person on the certificate
- Your reason for requesting a copy
- Your contact information and mailing address
With your TN divorce record application, you must also submit a payment for each copy you request. In order to verify your identity or relationship to the person on the divorce certificate, you must also show a government-issued photo ID. The Office of Vital Records accepts applications in person, at self-service kiosks and via the mail. If mailing your application, include a photocopy of your ID card or have your application notarized. In-person and mail-in divorce record searches may take up a significant amount of your time though, as visiting a physical site requires you to go in during business days and hours, and mailing an application can take several weeks to process. You cannot currently apply for online divorce records directly from the Tennessee Office of Vital Records.
How to Get a Tennessee Divorce Certificate from Other State Archives
A copy of a divorce certificate can be obtained from the Tennessee State Library and Archives if the divorce occurred more than 50 years ago. Divorce records may also be held in county and city offices. If you need a certified divorce decree copy for a divorce that took place more than 50 years ago, the State Library and Archives can certify it for an additional fee. Local courts may be able to provide the same service. However, most people who search historical divorce records do so for genealogical studies or for general historical interest and do not need the copies certified. To search divorce records in Tennessee in state archives, you can visit the Library and Archives and perform a search in person.