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How to Find a Divorce Record in Michigan

Divorce is also commonly known as dissolution of marriage. A dissolution of marriage happens when two people, previously married, want to end their union. In Michigan, divorces that occurred before 1897 are considered public for all. Records that have been created after 1897 years can be accessed through the state Vital Records office in-person or by mail, though divorce records are frequently sealed from the public. Michigan does not possess a central server to search for and access vital records such as divorce and marriage records online, so the only other option is for the requesting party to visit or contact the Vital Records office or by the court that issued the divorce. A municipality notes this information in three different ways that all serve different purposes. Knowing the distinction between these types of divorce records, and what they’re used for, can save requesting parties time and money. General facts on a Michigan divorce record can be checked by requesting a divorce verification.

Divorce records are considered court records. They may therefore be searched on third party public record websites. Divorce records can offer personal information on minors, finances, and sensitive criminal information like domestic abuse. Because of this, divorce record, certificate, and decree availability is usually much lower than other types of public records because of the personal nature of divorces. Simply put, divorce records are significantly harder to obtain and search for than other types of public records.

  • What is a Michigan Divorce Certificate?

    A divorce certificate is only obtainable by the two people who were divorced, and by the lawyers that supervised the divorce proceedings, though some states allow others to obtain the record in specific circumstances. This document has very general information within it, but is also the most frequently solicited. This document states plainly that two people married with one another wished for or were compelled to separate legally, which requires a divorce.

  • What is a Michigan Divorce Decree?

    A Divorce Decree is similar to the Divorce Certificate in that it is only available, outside of specific cases, to the people who were involved in the divorce and their legal advisors. A divorce decree is slightly more official as it is signed by a judge and does include a case number. It also contains all the terms of the divorce, which can include but is not limited to custody information, property issuance, spousal payments such as child support and alimony payment amounts, and scheduling details. Divorcees interested in making changes to the terms of their divorce need access to a divorce decree in order to make changes.

  • What is a Michigan Divorce Record?

    Michigan Divorce Records hold all the information available about the divorce when compared to degrees and certificates. Divorce records typically contain information from both of the other documents, as well as every file and document from the entire divorce process. Because of this, a divorce record can serve as case files. Maintenance of this file by all parties involved in the divorce is recommended, as they can be required to make changes after the finalization of the case. These records are public but are often sealed and unavailable to those not specifically involved.

    The only parties that are legally allowed to access vital records such as divorce records are:

    • One of the divorced parties or the parent or guardians of the divorced parties
    • Any children, grandparents, grandchildren, siblings, or spouse of one of the divorced parties
    • Anyone with a court order that demands these records
    • A law enforcement officer or official of a government agency

To Search Through the State Vital Records Office

  • To Search for Michigan Divorce Records In-person

    The office hours of the Vital Records Office are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and open all day. The vital record office is closed on state and national holidays. In-person, to get service on the same day, it is necessary to submit a request by 3:00 p.m.

    The State of Michigan Vital Records Office
    333 S Grand Avenue, 1st Floor
    Lansing MI 48933

    See driving directions for more detailed instructions.

  • To Search for Michigan Divorce Records by Mail

    In order to access divorce record by mail, send a request form to the address above. Requesting parties may also send forms to the P.O. box

    Vital Records Request
    P.O. Box 30721
    Lansing, MI 48909

    Normal turnaround time for mail-in orders is 4 to 5 weeks, but it is possible that processing could take 2 to 3 weeks if put on rush. If the requesting party has any questions, it is possible to contact our Eligibility Unit at (517) 335-8666. To request an application be sent by mail, please call and leave a message at (517) 335-8656. Members of the public are able to send emails and expect a 2 day response time. Accessing certified divorce records requires valid photo identification which can include a driver's license and any state-issued photo identification card or passport. If the requesting party does not possess a photo ID, there is a list of acceptable documents that may be used instead of valid photo identification on the Michigan state website. Divorce verifications do not require photo identification.

    Government public record search portals and third party public record websites both may provide court records search tools, which can help find divorce records, though record availability usually varies widely. Divorce records in particular may simply not be available through either source.

    It is important to note that certified copies of divorce decrees can only be obtained in the county where the divorce was finalized. Accessing this record via the Office of Vital Records is the only way to obtain full and certified copies of these records.

To Search Through the Local County Clerk's Office

Within the state of Michigan, there is not a central online portal to access vital records such as divorce records. Although a statewide database does not exist, it is still possible to acquire these records online. Requesting parties can perform an internet search for divorce records through certain county’s online portals. There are a few Michigan state counties that do not have an online portal, but many do. For instance, the Oakland County, Michigan website has an option under the section Elected Officials called Clerk/Register of Needs. On the next page, select the drop down titled “Court Records” and find a link to Court Explorer. Ordering records through Court Explorer will cost a requesting party $1 per page. A certified copy may be acquired for $10.00 per case, and an additional $1 per page. The Michigan government website provides a list of counties with the state websites linked.

Does Michigan Recognize Common-Law Marriages?

Michigan recognizes common-law marriages created before January 1, 1957. Michigan also recognizes common-law marriages entered in another state as legal partnerships under the US Constitution's "full faith and credit" provision. Couples in the state who wish to marry and have their union recognized by Michigan law must apply for and receive a marriage certificate. After issuing the marriage license, a court, a mayor, a clerk, or a minister would next authorize the marriage. While the State recognizes marriages formed in other states, they must meet specific criteria, including the following: (1) the state from which the spouses moved must Recognize Common-Law Marriage; (2) the couple must meet the legal requirements for common law marriages in their home state; and (3) the couple must have cohabited in their home state.