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2. Marriage and divorce

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  • Alabama

    Marriage and divorce certificates “in the custody of the State Registrar [of Vital Statistics] shall be considered nonrestricted public records.” Ala. Code § 22-9A-21(e) (1997).

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  • Alaska

    When 50 years have elapsed after a marriage, divorce, dissolution or annulment, these records become public. AS 18.50.310(a), (f).

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  • Arizona

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Arkansas

    Marriage and divorce records are exempt from the FOIA. They can only be disclosed for research purposes, and the disclosure of information that would identify a person or an institution can only be obtained upon a written request and with an agreement providing for the confidentiality of the information. Ark. Code Ann. § 20-18-304(a).

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  • California

    Certificates of marriage are public. However, confidential marriage certificates are not open to public inspection except upon order of the court issued upon a showing of good cause. Cal. Family Code § 511. Health and Safety Code §10361, which provided that State Registrar and county clerk records regarding dissolution of marriage, judgment of nullity or legal separation were closed to public inspection, was repealed in 1995. These records are now public.

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  • Colorado

    Vital statistics records shall be treated as confidential, but the department of public health and environment shall, upon request, furnish to any applicant having a direct and tangible interest in a vital statistics record a certified copy of any record. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 25-2-117(1).

    As of 2013, applications for a civil union license are expressly included with applications for marriage license as vital records that are treated as confidential for a period of fifty years. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-72-204(3)(a)(XIX)(A)-(B).

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  • Connecticut

    Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-51a permits those acting under the direction of a legally incorporated genealogical society to copy marriage records of a municipality for pre-1900 events. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 7-41a provides access to all records of vital statistics to any member of a legally incorporated genealogy society.

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  • Delaware

    Not specified.

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  • Florida

    Certified copies of all marriage certificates may be obtained by any person on request. Fla. Stat. § 382.025(2)(a).

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  • Georgia

    Certified copies of marriage licenses are available to the general public, but a certified copy of the marriage license application is only available to the bride and groom shown on the marriage license.
    The state vital records office will conduct a search to determine the occurrence of a divorce, and can issue a confirmation of a divorce. The state office of vital records will not issue a divorce record. Certified copies of divorce records are only available from the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county where the divorce was granted.

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  • Hawaii

    Haw. Rev. Stat. § 338-18 restricts the inspection and copying of, and disclosure of information contained in, vital statistics records to certain persons.

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  • Idaho

    Marriage and divorce are records of vital statistics and exempt from disclosure under Idaho Code § 74-106(4)(e) and are considered legally “confidential” in Idaho for 50 years. Idaho Code § 39-270(e). Further, information within court files of judicial proceedings is exempt to the extent the disclosure of which is prohibited by rules adopted by the Idaho Supreme Court.  Idaho Code § 74-104(2). See Rule 32 of the Idaho Court Administrative Rules for specific exemptions identified by the judicial branch.

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  • Illinois

    Closed pursuant to the Illinois Vital Records Act, 410 ILCS 535/1 et seq. and 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(a).  However, a marriage application (as opposed to a marriage license) is public.

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  • Indiana

    Marriage licenses, applications for marriage licenses, and marriage certificates are public records maintained by the clerk of each circuit court. Ind. Code § 31-11-4-4(b). The State Department of Health is required to prepare an annual index of all marriages solemnized in Indiana and provide at least one copy of the index to the Indiana State Library. Ind. Code § 31-11-4-18. Statistical data derived from marriage records are open to public inspection. Ind. Code §31-11-4-19.

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  • Iowa

    Iowa Code § 144.43.

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  • Kansas

    As of October 1, 2015, the Kansas Supreme Court amended Supreme Court Rule 106 so that “marriage licensing documents in the custody of a district court are confidential and are not subject to disclosure under the Kansas Open Records Act, K.S.A. 45-215 et seq.”  Instead, courts are to prepare a “limited marriage record” that prohibits the inclusion of certain information, including an applicant's date or city of birth and an applicant's mother’s maiden name.”

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  • Kentucky

    Certificates of marriage and dissolution of marriage are vital records subject to Ky. Rev. Stat. 213.131, et seq. Court records relating to divorce, like all other court records, are not governed by the Open Records Act, but they are generally open. See Ex Parte Farley, 570 S.W.2d 617, 624 (Ky. 1978).

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  • Louisiana

    Marriage records are not subject to subsection (C) (see § 40:41(C)(3)) and so presumably are public records normally disclosable. La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 40:41(A).

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  • Maine

    Custodians of certificates and records of birth, marriage and death may permit inspection of records, or issue certified copies of certificates or records, or any parts thereof, when satisfied that the applicant therefor has a direct and legitimate interest in the matter recorded, the decision of the state registrar or the clerk of a municipality being subject to review by the Superior Court, pursuant to 22 M.R.S.A. § 2706.

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  • Maryland

    A custodian shall deny inspection of the part of an application for a marriage license that contains a Social Security number, except to a person in interest or upon the request of the State Child Support Enforcement Administration. § 4-334(a).  Additionally, a court order to seal records in divorce or custody cases would generally override the PIA. PIA Manual, at 3-3.

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  • Massachusetts

    Marriage records since 1915 are publicly available from the Registry of Vital Records and Statistics in Boston, except with respect to marriage records of persons born out of wedlock, which are available only to the bride, groom, and the legal representative or parent of either of them.  G.L. c. 46, § 2A. No internet access.  Marriage records from 1841 to 1915 are available at the State Archives.  Earlier marriage records, dating back to 1635, may be available from the clerk’s office in the municipality of occurrence.  Divorce records are available from the probate court where the divorce was obtained; an index of divorces from 1952 to present is available at the Boston Registry.

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  • Michigan

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Minnesota

    These records are considered public. Minn. Stat. § 144.225, subd. 1

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  • Mississippi

    Only available to those with “legitimate and tangible interest.” §41-57-2.

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  • Montana

    Montana clerks of court use a single form as both the application for a marriage license and the marriage license itself.  The marriage license itself is open to the public. However, the information that can be released from the license application is specifically limited to: 1) names, ages and places of birth of the bride and groom; 2) date and place of the marriage; 3) names and addresses of the parents of the bride and groom; 4) name of the officiant; 5) whether the ceremony was civil or religious. Mont. Code Ann. § 50-15-122(5)(b), 48 Mont. A.G. Op. 10 (2000), 48 Mont. A.G. Op. 17 (2000). Anything else on the application is confidential. § 50-15-122(5)(c), Mont. Code Ann. The complete marriage certificate can be released to the public 30 years after the marriage date. Mont. Code Ann. § 50-15-122(5)(d).

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  • Nebraska

    Marriage records are public. Neb. Rev. Stat. §71-612 (Reissue 2009). Court records concerning divorces are public.

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  • Nevada

    Presumably open, but see NRS 125.130(3). See NRS 122.040(8) regarding openness of marriage licenses.

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  • New Jersey

    Marriage Certificates are “government records” as defined by OPRA. Divorce decrees are issued by a court and are subject to New Jersey Court Rule 1:38-1 et seq. governing access to court records.

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  • New Mexico

    Marriage and divorce records are not included in the definition of vital records.  NMSA 1978 § 24-14-2(L).

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  • New York

    Marriage records are kept by town or city clerks, depending where the marriage took place. Records pertaining to divorce, such as a certificate of disposition, can be obtained from the county clerk in the county in which the divorce was granted. Comm. on Open Gov’t, FOIL-AO-4892. Although the FOIL generally governs the rights of access to records, other statutes pertain specifically to marriage records and, therefore, the rights of access are generally conditioned upon a showing that the request is made for judicial or other “proper purpose.” Comm. on Open Gov’t, FOIL-AO-4929.

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  • North Carolina

    Public.  Marriage licenses are records of the register of Deeds.

    G.S. § 51-8. Upon presentation of a current and valid “address Confidentiality Program authorization card,” the register of Deeds may use a substitute address when creating a new marriage license. G.S. § 51-16.1. Records of divorce are judicial records that are public. G.S. § 7a-109.

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  • Ohio

    While records pertaining to the issuance of marriage licenses must be made available to the public, the social security numbers of the parties must generally be deleted or removed before inspection.  Ohio Rev. Code § 3101.051.

    Rules 44 and 45 of the Rules of Superintendence, which the Ohio Supreme Court adopted in 2009, address public access to records filed in domestic relations court, which has jurisdiction to grant divorces. Those rules keep certain personal information, such as credit card numbers and bank account numbers, outside the broad scope of court records that are presumptively open to the public. Those rules do not have the same force of law that a statute has, but courts generally follow them. Buckmaster v. Buckmaster, 2014-Ohio-793 (4th Dist.-Highland).

    The Rules of Superintendence presumptively close the following kinds of records filed in divorce cases:

    (i) health care documents, including but not limited to physical health, psychological health, psychiatric health, mental health, and counseling documents;

    (ii) drug and alcohol use assessments and pre-disposition treatment facility reports;

     

    (iii) guardian ad litem reports, including collateral source documents attached to or filed with the reports;

     

    (iv) home investigation reports, including collateral source documents attached to or filed with the reports;

     

    (v) child custody evaluations and reports, including collateral source documents attached to or filed with the reports;

     

    (vi) domestic violence risk assessments;

      (vii) supervised parenting time or companionship or visitation records and reports, including exchange records and reports;

     

    (viii) financial disclosure statements regarding property, debt, taxes, income, and expenses, including collateral source documents attached to or filed with records and statements;

     

    (ix) asset appraisals and evaluations.

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  • Oklahoma

    Marriage and divorce records are filed with the District Court and may be accessed through the Courts.

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  • Oregon

    Under ORS 432.350, marriage records for marriages occurring within 50 years of the request are exempt from disclosure, though abstracts of such records are made public. There are exceptions for certain family members, a showing of intent to use the information solely for research purposes, or for a need to determine property rights.

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  • Pennsylvania

    Marriage and divorce information is presumptively accessible.  Directions on obtaining these documents can be found here: https://www.statelibrary.pa.gov/GeneralPublic/VitalRecords/Pages/default.aspx#2.

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  • Rhode Island

    Generally closed.  Issuance of marriage and divorce certificates is subject to the rules and regulations established by the state Director of Health pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 23-3-3.

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  • South Carolina

    Marriage licenses are issued by and filed in the office of the probate judge of a county and any person may receive a certified copy.  S.C. Code Ann. § 20-1-340.  “Proper parties” (undefined in the statute) may obtain a copy of a marriage license from the State Department of Health and Environmental Control.  S.C. Code Ann. § 20-1-350. Divorce records are court records which are public, although some Family Court clerks need to be persuaded on this point.

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  • South Dakota

    Open. SDCL §34-25-1.

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  • Tennessee

    Generally closed. T.C.A. § 68-3-205

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  • Texas

    Section 552.141(a) of the Act exempts the Social Security number of an individual that is maintained by a county clerk and that is on an application for a marriage license. Under this section, if a the county clerk receives a request to make the information in a marriage license application available, the county clerk must redact the portion of the application that contains such Social Security number and then release the remainder of the information on the application. Tex. Gov't Code §552.141(b). A divorce decree is a court-filed document that is expressly public under Section 552.022 of the Government Code and may not be withheld unless confidential under other law. Op. Tex. Att'y Gen. Nos. OR2004-5118 (2004).

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  • Utah

    Except for the information required to be shown on the marriage license application form, any information given by a marriage license applicant to comply with the statute “shall be confidential information and may not be released by any person, board, commission, or other entity.” Utah Code § 30-1-37. The statute also provides, however, that statistical data based on the information provided by a marriage license applicant may be used, without identifying specific individuals, by the premarital counseling boards appointed by the county boards of commissioners. See id.

    The court file in a divorce proceeding may be sealed by the court upon the motion of either party to the divorce court. The sealed file is available to the public only by court order, but the divorce decree itself is open to public inspection. See id. § 30-3-4(2). In 1995, United States Congresswoman Enid Greene Waldholtz successfully moved to seal the court file in her divorce action against Joseph Waldholtz. The Congresswoman filed for divorce after she and her husband became embroiled in a controversy involving financial misconduct. After several news organizations intervened, the court vacated its order sealing the records and held that the Waldholtzs’ divorce records were public. Waldholtz v. Waldholtz, No. 954904704 (Utah 3d Dist. January 16, 1996).

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  • Vermont

    Records of Vermont births, deaths, marriages, civil unions, and divorces dating from 2012 and earlier, with a few exceptions including foreign-born births, are available from the Vermont State Archives and Records Administration. At this time, pursuant to 18 V.S.A. § 5002, there are no restrictions on public access to Vermont vital records.

    If a person filing a marriage license is a participant in the confidential address program described in 15 V.S.A. chapter 21, subchapter 3, that person’s address can be kept confidential. 18 V.S.A. § 5132.

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  • Washington

    See Vital statistics section above.

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  • West Virginia

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Wyoming

    Open except for financial affidavits filed with a court.

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