Washington Court Records
How are Divorce Records Generated in Washington?
When two people who are married decide to end their marriage, this is referred to as divorce. This can also be known as dissolution of marriage. According to the United States Census Bureau, the Washington divorce rate, which includes ahttps://washingtoncourtrecords.us/family-court-records/divorce/file-for-divorce/nnulment of marriage, is 9.6. Washington state law dictates that no spouse wishing to get a divorce must prove ‘fault’ in order for the divorce to be finalized. It is stated under Chapter 26.04 RCW that Washington is a ‘no-fault’ jurisdiction. Grounds for divorce are essentially very simple, as the testimony of just one party is enough to obtain a divorce, although there are a number of things that must be proven to a judge:
- The marriage was legitimate
- Both parties meet residency requirements
- The party or parties have followed correct legal procedures
Although the state does not require any partner to be at fault for a divorce, the process can still be complicated and complex. If there are disagreements between spouses, those must be settled.Couples who wish to get a divorce may settle this through meditation, arbitration, or court hearing with lawyers and a presiding judge. Divorce is considered a matter of family law and therefore the hearings are held in Family Court, a division of the Washington Superior Court. This means that divorce records are held and maintained by either the Washington Department of Health (WDH) or the county clerk in the county where the divorce was finalized. Divprce records finalized after 1968 are maintained by the WDH, while records finalized after 1968 are maintained by the local county clerk.
Are Divorce Records Public in Washington?
Yes, Washington divorce records are considered public records and it is policy that court clerks assist in requesting parties accessing these records, according to the Washington State Court General Rule GR 31. Any member of the public can request uncertified copies of divorce records for viewing, although it is not always guaranteed that all information in the records will be available as divorce often involves financial information, information about minors, and sometimes information regarding abuse or domestic violence. Due to privacy rights, certain records may not be accessible at all. The best way to request access to divorce records in Washington is by providing all necessary information and fees, such as valid identification and information regarding the divorce record itself.
What are the types of Divorce Records Available in Washington?
There are three ways that the state records a divorce: divorce certificates, divorce decrees, and full divorce records. In order for a requesting party to access the correct document for their needs, it is necessary to know the difference between the three. Divorce certificates are the most general statement of divorce and the most requested type of record. They also contain the least amount of information, including the names of the divorced parties and the date, time, and location the divorce occurred. This record is often requested by one of the parties if they wish to legally change their name or apply for a new marriage certificate. Divorce decrees are a bit more detailed than certificates as they contain the judge’s final decisions on the case regarding apportionment of property, child support and custody, and financial agreements between the ex-spouses. A divorce record is the most complete record of a divorce in the state of Washington and is given to the both parties after the divorce is finalized. It is usually advised to keep these records in the case that one of the parties wants to challenge a decision stated within it. Along with all the information held in divorce certificates and divorce decrees, divorce records contain every file, document, and transcript produced as a result of the divorce case. Divorce records can be obtained by members of the public, but only the parties in the divorce along with their attorneys can obtain certified copies.
How Do I Get Divorce Records in Washington?
There are three main ways to obtain divorce records in the state of Washington. In order to access this type of record, the following information is needed before requesting:
- Determine if the divorce was finalized before or after 1968.
- If the divorce occurred after 1968, the requesting party must search through the WDH.
- To access a divorce record through the WDH, a completely filled out request form is required.
- If the divorce occurred before 1968, the records can be accessed through the Superior Court Clerk’s Office in the county where the divorce occurred.
- Follow the provided instructions on the superior court website of the county where the divorce was concluded. Fees will often vary from county to county.
Ordering Washing Divorce Records In-person
To access divorce records in-person through the Department of Health, visit the Customer Service Counter in the office located at:
Center for Health Statistics
Department of Health
101 Israel Road SE
Tumwater, WA 98501
The office is open from 8:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding state holidays. Usually, requesting these documents in-person results in same day service, but visiting after 4:00 p.m. may not yield the same results.
Ordering Washington Divorce Records By Mail
To order a divorce certificate in Washington using the mail, it is necessary to submit a request form with all necessary identification and fees associated with the request. Each document requested requires a separate request form. For divorces filed after 1968, mail the request form to:
Center for Health Statistics
Department of Health
PO Box 9709
Olympia WA 98507–9709
If the record was filed before1968, mail in the request to the address of the clerk of court in the county where the divorce occured. Turnover time for ordering by mail is 6–8 weeks.
Ordering Washington Divorce Records Online
Washington provides the option of searching for and ordering divorce records online through their case records pag. Requesting parties must provide the names of both of the divorced parties and the case number for the file. Washington Courts also provides alternatives to their own record search program, but suggested portals may be third party websites, and as such, record availability is not guaranteed as they are not government-funded. To find records finalized within King County, requesting parties must visit the King County Clerk’s Record Access Portal.
Who Can Obtain Divorce Records in Washington?
In Washington, divorce records are accessible by members of the public provided the requesting party has all necessary information. Divorce certificates and divorce decrees are only available to the parties involved in the divorce and attorneys and other parties involved in the divorce process.
Are Washington Divorce Records Available Online?
Washington divorce records are available online through a statewide online case records page. Larger counties in the state also offer their own online portals, although prices may vary. For divorces finalized in King County, it is necessary to visit the King County record portal on their website.
How Do I Seal My Divorce Records in Washington?
Washington General Rule GR 15 deals with the sealing of court records. This action is decided by a judge if both parties of the divorce file a motion or order to “delete, purge, remove, excise, erase, or redact” certain specifics of a case file if the file contains personal information regarding minors, abuse, or financial information. Ultimately, it is up to the presiding judge to decide if a record will be sealed or not.