Ask the County Law Librarian – Copies of court documents
Q: I live in Sacramento now but I got divorced back in 1993. At that time I lived in San Bernardino County and my ex-wife moved back to Sacramento. I am trying to apply to refinance my house and the bank is asking to see proof that I am divorced. I don’t know what county the divorce was granted in, I tried calling the court, but no one answers. Where can I get proof that the divorce was final in 1993?
A: Thank you for submitting your question. Court documents, including family law judgments are available from the court that handled the case. In some counties, you can access court documents online from the court’s website. However, many family law documents are not online for privacy reasons. Since an institution is asking for your papers, you most likely need a certified copy of the document. If so, you will need to request those directly from the court clerk. Typically, copies may be requested in person or by mail.
The quickest way to obtain a copy is to go there in person. To locate the county courthouse where your divorce was granted, go to http://www.courts.ca.gov/find-my-court.htm and using the list of courts, link out to the county court website. At its website, in addition to contact information, you will probably find specific instructions for obtaining copies of court documents from that particular court. Since you are not sure which county the divorce was granted in, you will need to check with both San Bernardino County and Sacramento County.
First, here are the instructions provided for San Bernardino County. You will need to contact them directly with any further questions about their specific process.
For copies of Sacramento County family law records, they are either stored at the Family Court or at an off-site facility. Older files that are not stored at the courthouse must be pre-ordered from an off-site storage facility using their online court file request process.
Case numbers beginning with the following are located at the courthouse and do not have to be pre-ordered:
• 11AD, 12AD, 13AD
• 08FL, 09FL, 10FL, 11FL, 12FL, 13FL
• 12DV, 13DV
• 12CP, 13CP
• 10FS, 11FS, 12FS, 13FS
If you do not know your case number, then you may look it up using the Court Index. A request for copies of documents must be submitted in person. If you are unable to go to the courthouse, you may have a friend, family member, or private copy service obtain copies for you. There are various fees that could be incurred when requesting copies, in addition to any fees charged by a private copy service.
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