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How to Find a Divorce Record in Arkansas
Arkansas divorce records are files that consist of divorce decrees, divorce certificates, and other divorce-related files. They provide all important information about the divorce, such as the names of the parties and the terms of divorces. They are typically accepted as proof of divorces and needed for other legal purposes. Unless otherwise restricted, divorce records are available to the public in Arkansas.
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 Divorce Certificate?
A divorce certificate is a document that shows that a marriage has come to an end. It comprises primary information concerning the divorced parties and the date and place of the termination of the marriage. Usually, people need divorce certificates when remarrying or to change their names. This type of marriage record is issued by the Arkansas Department of Health.
A divorce certificate may be certified or plain/regular. A certified divorce certificate is printed on a security paper with a seal. Arkansas state law restricts access to certified divorce certificates to the divorced couples named in the certificates, their spouses, and registered domestic partners. Other individuals eligible to request for certified divorce certificates are descendants of both parties, their parents or guardians, and their designated attorneys. Federal/state/local governments and genealogists may also obtain information contained in certified divorcce certificates in Arkansas.
A plain copy provides the same information as a certified copy. However, it is printed on plain paper and does not have a seal. It includes a stamp indicating it is not acceptable for legal or identification purposes. Anyone can request for a plain copy of a divorce certificate in Arkansas.
What is a Divorce Decree?
A divorce decree is a document prepared and issued by the court. It includes information provided in the divorce judgment. It also contains terms of the divorce, such as property divisions, custody information, and spousal support payments including alimony information and child support. Divorce decrees are usually detailed and mention all agreed-upon information between the parties involved.
A divorce decree is signed by the judge who gave the divorce judgment and filed with the county clerk of the court where the decree was issued. Divorce decrees have court case numbers, and they are included in divorce records.
Generally, the parties getting a divorce and their attorneys are the only people who can access this document. In addition to this, their spouses, registered domestic partners, descendants, and parents/guardians can also obtain this document. Similarly, federal/state/local governments and state-recognized genealogists can access the divorce decree.
What is a Divorce Record?
A divorce record is a set of documents detailing the proceedings of a divorce case. This record includes information contained in the divorce certificate and the divorce decree as well as every file from the entire divorce process. Many request divorce records to keep for personal reasons or use to challenge divorce judgments.
Are Divorce Records Available to the Public in Arkansas?
In accordance with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, divorce records are public records accessible by members of the public. However, this access is restricted in certain circumstances by state law to individuals named on the divorce records. The law also allows their descendants, spouses/partners, attorneys, and parents/guardians to access these confidential records.
In Arkansas, courts do not automatically seal divorce records. The parties involved in a divorce can however make a motion or file a request with the court for their divorce records to be sealed. The court, in making its decision, usually weighs the potential damage to the party making the request against the public right to open records. Some grounds for which this request can be granted include:
- To protect the identities of minors mentioned in the records
- To protect the privacy of the victims of domestic violence and child abuse
- To protect sensitive business and financial information
- To guard against false allegations arising from the divorce
Requesters must demonstrate “good cause” that their privacy, reputations, relationships, and/or employment will be affected unless the records are kept out of the public domain. In most cases, the court will only seal certain documents in the divorce file. In such cases, the divorce record may remain partially open. Arkansas courts are more likely to grant requests to make select documents confidential than completely seal divorce records.
How to Obtain Arkansas Divorce Court Records
In Arkansas, divorce records can be vital records or court records. A divorce court record is a more complete recording of the court proceedings leading to the dissolution of a marriage. This is maintained by the clerk of the court where the divorce case was determined. Divorce court records can be obtained by visiting the domestic relations divisions of the circuit courts where the divorce proceedings were held.
Arkansas divorce court records can be obtained in three ways:
- In person
- Via mail
In Arkansas, divorce records are maintained by the offices of county clerks or circuit court clerks where the divorces were filed and finalized. To obtain a divorce record in person, visit the office of the circuit clerk in the court where the divorce was filed. The following information is usually required:
- full names of parties involved in the divorce
- date of divorce or annulment
- place of divorce (city or town, county, state)
- type of final decree
- relationship to the parties involved in the divorce
- the purpose for which the record is needed
- requester’s name & address
- requester’s driver's license number & state (some counties require it)
It is also possible to send a written request by mail to the county clerk or clerk of circuit court where the divorce proceeding was decided. Make sure to sign the request and provide a phone number. It is important to know the county name and/or date of event. Sometimes, the clerk will require a signed release from one of the parties named in the divorce record if the requester is not a member of their immediate family.
Visit the Administrative Office of the Courts CourtConnect to access Arkansas divorce court records online. Using this access portal, anyone can search for these records by name, date, and case/docket number. Note that Arkansas puts limited divorce records online.
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.
How to Obtain Arkansas Divorce Certificate
Divore certificates are maintained as vital records by the Arkansas Department of Health. It is possible to request for divorce certificates from this agency in person, by mail, online, and over the phone..
A certified copy of the divorce can be ordered by visiting the Vital Records Office of the Arkansas Department of Health located at:
4815 West Markham St.
Little Rock, AR 72205
The office is open from Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Most certificate requests can be fulfilled the same day for requests submitted before 4:00 pm. Requesters must be eligible to receive the certificates requested and have all the required information, including acceptable ID. Walk-in payment options include cash, credit/debit cards, check, and money order. When paying with a check or money order, make it out to the Arkansas Department of Health (no temporary checks permitted).
To receive divorce records by mail, start by downloading and completing an Arkansas Divorce Certificate Application. Alternatively, obtain this application from any of the local health units of the Arkansas Department of Health. Enclose a copy of a valid ID and a check or money order for copy fees with the application. The Arkansas Department of Health charges $10 for each certified copy of a divorce certificate. Send the mail request to:
Arkansas Department of Health
Vital Records, Slot 44
4815 West Markham Street
Little Rock, AR 72205
It is also possible to order copies of divorce certificates using the Vital Records Online Service provided by the Arkansas Department of Health. To submit a request for these vital records online, complete and submit the divorce certificate request webform. To complete the order, the requester needs a credit card to pay for service, copy, and shipping fees; a valid driver’s license or two other kinds of acceptable IDs; and a proof of relationship to one party involved in the divorce.
To order copies of divorce certificates by phone, call this toll-free line: (866) 209-9482. Follow the instructions provided. The Arkansas Vital Records Office accepts debit and credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express) for payment for orders placed over the phone.
Does Arkansas Recognize Common-Law Marriages?
Arkansas common-law marriages are not recognized by the state regardless of how long a couple has been together. However, if the parties obtained such status in another state that recognizes that sort of marriage, Arkansas will recognize it. So, if a couple resided in Oklahoma (which recognizes common law weddings) and has fulfilled all conditions necessary to establish a legitimate common law marriage there, Arkansas would recognize that marriage as if it were a “normal” marriage. However, getting married in Arkansas without going through the formal process is impossible—no matter how long a couple has been together. Another possibility for couples in common-law marriages to obtain official recognition as if they executed power of attorney documents during the relationship.