Are Divorce Records Public In California?
For some couples, the prospect of divorce is worrisome not only because of the actual process itself, but also because of the disclosure of the divorce as a matter of public record. In California, divorces are public record and are accessible through the California Department of Public Health. Informational copies of divorce records are available to anyone upon request.
Why Does This Matter?
The most common concern of having a divorce record being public information is because of religion. Many religions heavily frown upon, or outright forbid, divorce. Catholicism, for example, does not allow remarriage after divorce if both spouses are still living and there has not been an annulment.
A spouse who wants, or has gotten a divorce, but who also wants to remain a member of their church, may worry about friends or family finding out if the records are public.
Who Looks At Divorce Records?
Birth, death, marriage, and divorce records are used by all kinds of private and government agencies for statistical purposes. They are also be useful to help monitor and maintain public health.
More relevant to the topic of divorce, public records are often accessed during a family law investigation to gather information about a spouse. It is not uncommon for one spouse to have lied about or simply not disclosed the fact that they were previously married.
Alternatives To Divorce
For those who want to avoid having a divorce be a matter of public record, there are a couple of potential alternatives to getting an actual legal divorce:
Marriage Annulment: With an annulment, it’s as if the marriage never happened from a legal standpoint. This means spouses who opt for annulment are then legally “single” and not “divorced”. This is often the choice for those who want to end their marriage but also remain faithful to their religious beliefs.
Legal Separation: While not technically a divorce, a legal separation is for couples who want the security of a court order that defines all the same legal aspects of one. This includes having a court rule on the division of property, alimony, child support, custody, and visitation.
Working With An Attorney
If you are considering a divorce, but are worried about having a public divorce record, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced divorce attorney to learn more about the process and your options.
Learning about the legal alternatives to divorce can often help those worried about ending their marriage. If you have specific questions about divorce or divorce records in California, please contact our office for a free consultation.
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