Puja Sachdev | April 6, 2022 | Divorce
California law generally encourages open records. This policy includes divorce records, despite all of the personal, financial, and family information they contain. This openness explains why so many details of celebrity divorces make it into the news.
Using this information could help you find out about someone else’s divorce. You could verify a potential romantic partner by reviewing their divorce records. But at the same time, everything in your divorce could be exposed to the public.
Here is some information about how to look up divorce records in San Diego, CA, and how to keep sensitive details out of public view.
Availability of Divorce Records
Courts in California do not make divorce files available online. And unlike some states, California’s Department of Vital Records does not publish divorce certificates for divorces that happened after 1984.
As a result, you will have access to limited information if you search for someone’s California divorce online.
Accessing Divorce Records Online
You can find some records online. If you know which court the divorce was filed in, you can access the online docket. This docket includes:
- The names of the parties getting divorced
- The lawyers for the parties
- The filing date and case number
- The judge assigned to the case
- A list of documents filed in the case
- A list of orders issued by the judge
But the online docket will not include any of the documents that were filed. The docket will only list the filing date and title of the document.
Accessing Divorce Files at the Courthouse
You can access a couple’s complete divorce file at the courthouse. You will need to know which court handled the divorce. While California does maintain a court records archive, courts only transfer files to the archive when they need additional space. Divorce records might take two to five years to reach the central archive.
When you go to the courthouse, you will need to give the clerk enough information to look up the divorce file for you. The case number usually provides the quickest access to the file. You can get the case number from the online docket. You can also access the divorce file using the names of the divorcing couple.
Information You Will Find in the Divorce File
The divorce file includes everything except for information the court or the parties specifically exclude. This means you will see all of the details of the divorce, including how the parties resolved:
You will be able to see details like the names and ages of the children, the financial information used to determine child support and spousal support, and a list of the property owned by the couple.
Information You Will Not Find in the Divorce File
You might not find all of the information from the divorce in the court filings. Some items that might not make it into the records include:
- Personal identifying information, such as Social Security numbers and bank account numbers
- Sealed documents
- Documents withheld from the record by the parties
If one or both spouses petition the court to seal a document, the court will do so if the motion to seal the record alleges facts that justify keeping the document secret. Typically, embarrassment will not justify sealing a document.
Instead, the party must identify a specific privacy interest, such as harassment. For example, if one spouse alleges domestic violence, the court may consider redacting the spouse’s address from any divorce filings.
Keeping Information Out of a Divorce File
If you are involved in a divorce, you can keep private information out of the file by having your lawyer work with your spouse’s lawyer.
Both spouses can keep details out of the public record by settling instead of fighting. The record will only include your divorce settlement agreement and the final decree putting it into effect.
Contact Our Divorce Law Firm in San Diego, CA
San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC
2851 Camino del Rio S #430
San Diego, CA 92108