A Pennsylvania divorce certificate is a legal record that you receive after filing for divorce. A divorce decree copy will be sent to you and your former spouse after a divorce is finalized. You and your former spouse will both need a copy of divorce papers to complete a number of steps that follow a dissolution. Name changes and legal changes to other assets that you held together when married are included in the steps you need to take after a divorce. . Marriage and divorce records are also maintained by the court system in the county in which these proceedings took place. As such, you may obtain a copy of divorce certificate documents directly from the county office that filed your court case. In the sections below, learn what you can use your decree of divorce for, how to get a copy of divorce papers and how members of the public can obtain records for informational purposes.
What can I do with my divorce papers in Pennsylvania?
A Pennsylvania divorce decree does more than prove that you and your spouse have filed for divorce. First, filing your divorce documents gives you an opportunity to change your married name as part of the court proceedings. On your divorce decree, Pennsylvania allows you to resume your birth name. Note that some name change forms may need to be notarized, so it is best to check what the policies are in your county before signing a name change form. Your copy of divorce decree papers will be necessary to change your name whether you complete the change in court or not. You must bring a divorce certificate copy to the Social Security Administration if you choose to change your name at a later date. If you change your name in court or at a Social Security office, then it is still your responsibility to change your name on your drivers license, ID card and any accounts you may have in your name. A certified copy of divorce decree papers will need to be shown in most instances where you need to change your name.
PA divorce certificates are often required when you wish to make a change to joint accounts, such as bank accounts, health care accounts, mortgages and other financial matters you and your former spouse managed together. Most accounts such as these will require some record of your decree of divorce before making any changes. You may or may not need to show a certified divorce decree to change information about account holders on joint accounts, but it depends on each institution’s policies.
A divorce record must also be presented before you can get remarried in Pennsylvania. Your divorce decree copy proves that you are legally single, which the county clerk must see before issuing a marriage license. Note that even if you have your PA divorce papers, some counties may require you to wait a certain number of days after your divorce is finalized before you can get remarried.
There are many other reasons why you need divorce certificates in Pennsylvania in addition to the reasons listed above. Get a copy of your divorce record here to help you finalize all of the legal steps that follow your divorce.
How to Get a Copy of Divorce Decree in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, divorce records are not held in one centralized location. Instead, divorce documents are filed in the county where a divorce took place. As such, when you need a copy of a divorce certificate, you must go to the county in which you filed for divorce. Divorce certificates, in most counties, are issued by the Prothonotary office. Because PA divorce records are maintained on a county level, the processes for obtaining copies of divorce decrees vary by county.
Before requesting divorce decree copies in Pennsylvania, you should know whether you need a certified copy or a simple copy. A simple divorce record copy may be acceptable in many situations, but the Social Security Administration and the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles will only accept a certified copy of divorce decree papers. All counties can issue both certified copies and simple copies upon request.
In any Pennsylvania county, you may get a copy of divorce papers by visiting the appropriate county office in person. You may ask the county how to get divorce papers using other methods if you cannot appear in person. Some counties may allow you to request divorce records by mail or over the phone. Any time you request a divorce record, you will need to submit the following items:
- The docket number or court case number
- The names of both spouses, including the couple’s married names (if different from birth names)
- The year of the divorce
- A self-addressed stamped envelope so that the clerk may return your record by mail
- A payment for your copies, calculated as a flat fee or priced per-page
Requesting to search divorce records by mail can take several weeks of processing. Likewise, a divorce record search ordered over the phone can prove problematic if you are hard of hearing or have language barriers. While online divorce records are not offered by most Pennsylvania counties, you can obtain a copy of your divorce record online here.
How to Find Divorce Records in Pennsylvania
You may also wish to find divorce records for informational purposes, such as conducting a genealogical study. A PA divorce record search can help you locate records from as early as 1885 in some counties. Divorces are a matter of public record in Pennsylvania. Therefore, anyone can conduct a public record divorce search and obtain a copy of any divorce decree on file with a county. It is important to note that a divorce search only allows you to see the basic information and you cannot see official court papers, unless you are named on the divorce record as a plaintiff, defendant or attorney. You may, however, get a copy of your divorce papers here.