Are Tennessee Divorce Records Public?

In Tennessee, divorce records, like most family court records, are generally considered public information, which means they can be accessed by anyone interested in obtaining the details. However, there are certain exceptions and restrictions that apply to specific pieces of information contained within these records. In this blog, we will look at what information is publicly accessible as well as circumstances that allow for records to be sealed.  

Divorce Records vs. Divorce Decree vs. Divorce Certificate  

Before continuing, it is important to note that there are distinct types of divorce-related documents: divorce certificates, divorce decrees, and divorce records. Below, we will discuss each document and what it contains in further detail.  

Divorce Certificates 

A divorce certificate is a statement that you and the other party did divorce. This document contains the least amount of information of the three divorce-related documents, as they do not have specifics concerning the final settlement.  

If obtained, a person reviewing a certificate would only see the following information:  

  • Each party’s name  

  • The date the divorce was finalized  

  • The location of the divorce finalization  

In most cases, divorcing parties are the people requesting access to this document because they need the divorce certificate to complete name changes or obtain a marriage license for a remarriage. Divorce certificates can be requested by the parties involved and their respective attorneys 

Divorce Decrees 

A divorce decree refers to the final judgement that parties enter after the divorce papers are signed. This document contains:  

  • Each party’s name  

  • The date and location of the divorce finalization  

  • Information concerning judgments (i.e. alimony, property and debt division, child custody, and other determinations)  

Divorce decrees are typically not publicly available. Thus, you will not have to worry about online searches or websites sharing this document.  

Divorce Records  

Divorce records are the most detailed of these documents. A divorce record will provide information about the dissolution of a marriage between two individuals. These records serve various purposes, such as assisting in genealogical research, providing proof of divorce for remarriage or other legal matters, and offering statistical data for government agencies and researchers. 

In Tennessee, divorce records typically contain information such as:  

  • the names of the divorcing parties,  

  • their ages,  

  • the date and place of the divorce,  

  • the grounds for divorce,  

  • evidence and court transcripts, and  

  • alimony and child support arrangements, the division of property, and other judgments made.  

How to Find Divorce Records in Tennessee  

To access divorce records in Tennessee, interested parties can visit the county clerk's office where the divorce was granted. Alternatively, requests for copies of divorce records can be made through the Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.  

A small fee may be required to obtain a copy of a divorce record. They will also need to provide the date and location of the divorce as well as their reason for requesting the document. Divorce records that are over 50 years old (as well as marriage and death certificates) are made available through the Tennessee State Library and Archives using the Genealogical Services.  

Restrictions to Publicly Accessible Information  

While most information in divorce records is publicly accessible, there are restrictions on what type of information they can review to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. For example, Social Security numbers, financial account numbers, and other sensitive personal data are not included in publicly available divorce records. Additionally, information regarding child custody and visitation arrangements may be restricted to protect the privacy and well-being of the children involved. 

How to Protect Your Privacy  

To protect your privacy, you can consider filing an uncontested divorce and come to an agreement with your partner using mediation or other alternative dispute methods. Mediation records are not public, and only the agreed-upon terms of your divorce will be known. 

In certain cases, a judge may decide to seal divorce records, making them inaccessible to the general public. To request that a divorce record be sealed, one or both parties must demonstrate a compelling reason for the seal, such as protecting the safety of individuals involved or preserving sensitive financial information.  

The decision to seal a record is ultimately at the discretion of the judge, who will weigh the need for privacy against the public's right to access the information. A judge may consider sealing divorce documents in cases involving:  

  • Domestic violence allegations  

  • Potential libel  

  • Substance abuse and addiction  

Trusted Tennessee Divorce Attorneys  

The attorneys at Conner & Roberts, PLLC have nearly 40 years of collective legal experience. If you need help navigating a contested or uncontested divorce, our attorneys are here and equipped to help you understand your rights and legal options.  

To discuss your divorce case with our attorneys, call (423) 299-4489. Initial consultations are free.  

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