The process of getting a divorce can overwhelm even adults to a great extent. With emotions running high, the need to deal with a complex and slow-paced justice system can wear you down quickly and completely. As a result, most people tend to forget about the one thing all divorces have in common, the paperwork.
Once your divorce is finalized, all the paperwork related to your proceedings will be condensed into a divorce record. It comprises the important details of your case, including divorce settlement, alimony, and custody arrangements, among other things. At this point, like most people, you are less likely to think about what happens to your divorce record.
However, as an experienced divorce lawyer in Brainerd, MN, we make it a point to keep our clients and prospects well-informed. If you are getting a divorce, here’s what you need to know about divorce records.
The Minnesota Divorce Rate
More than 267,000 people in Minnesota are divorced.
While the marriage rate in Minnesota is slightly higher than the national average, the opposite is true of divorce. In Minnesota, there are 7.1 divorces per 1000 people. That’s compared to the national average of 7.7 divorces per 1000 people.
According to Minnesota divorce lawyers, the state’s rate of divorce has increased since the coronavirus pandemic. By some estimates, divorce filings have gone up by at least 30%.
Yet, overall, the Minnesota divorce rate is on the decline. Divorces have decreased from 2008’s rate of 9.1 per 1000 people. At the same time, the national divorce rate has actually increased since 2008.
The Minnesota cities with the highest divorce rates include:
- Sauk Rapids
- International Falls
Brainerd, MN has the second-highest divorce rate in Minnesota, second only to Virginia, MN. With a population of just over 13,00 people, Brainerd’s divorce rate was 14% in 2020. Approximately 1497 people are divorced in Brainerd.
What’s In a Divorce Record?
In Minnesota, a divorce record is also known as a divorce decree. First and foremost, a Brainerd divorce record or decree serves as proof of a dissolution of marriage. Dissolution of marriage is the legal term for divorce in Minnesota.
The divorce record will also contain all the conditions of marriage dissolution. These will be the conditions decided during uncontested divorce, mediation, or court proceedings. Conditions may include specifics about property and debt division, child support, alimony, and custody agreements.
Sometimes, a divorce record may also contain protective order records. In Minnesota, Orders for Protection (OFPs) typically come about due to domestic violence.
Are Divorce Records Public in Brainerd, MN?
Not just in Brainerd, MN, in many jurisdictions around the world, most court proceedings are public records. So, your divorce record or decree is also a public record. In fact, if you file it, your separation agreement also becomes a public record.
This is part of the Minnesota Data Practices Act. This law ensures that the Minnesota public has the right to access and analyze public records. The law also states that the public has the right to have public records explained to them if the data isn’t easily understandable.
Even before the Data Practices Act, the First Amendment granted public access to records. This is because the First Amendment grants the US public a “right of access” to any record created in court.
In other words, anyone can access your divorce record if they know where and how to find it. The purpose of making most court proceedings a public record is to allow the tax-paying citizens to scrutinize, examine, and copy them, regardless of the purpose. You usually have to pay a small fee to access the court records.
Who Would Want to Access a Brainerd Divorce Record?
Courts often request divorce records during legal proceedings. For example, a Brainerd court might want to see a divorce record if one of the divorced persons is:
- Getting remarried
- Making a property dispute
- Filing for a green card
- Disputing spousal and/or child support
- Determining how property distribution in his or her will
Individuals may also want to access divorce records. For example, say you’re dating someone new and want to know about their marriage history. You can look up their divorce records online, in-person, or with the help of a Brainerd divorce lawyer.
Can You Seal Divorce Records in Brainerd, MN?
As you may already know, in almost all cases, the courts will not seal the divorce records automatically. However, with the help of an experienced divorce lawyer in Brainerd, MN, you can apply and convince the court to seal your records. One or both parties have the right to ask the court to seal the records.
Upon your request, the court may seal only a part or your entire divorce record. The final decision usually rests with the judge. The court will, in most cases, consider if making the record public could be harmful or not. If the answer is yes, the court will seal the record.
In Minnesota, requesting a judge to seal part of your divorce record is a “narrowly tailored” request. Making a narrow request is usually more successful than asking to seal the entire divorce record.
Why Divorce Records Can Be Sealed in Brainerd, MN?
The court will decide to seal portions or your complete record depending on the circumstances of your case. However, the usual reasons for placing divorce records under seal include the following:
- If the circumstances of your divorce require to protect the identity of children from the public, the court will seal this portion of your divorce records
- Sometimes, the court may also seal the records to protect the identity of domestic abuse and child abuse victims
- In many cases, the court will also seal sensitive information such as bank account numbers and social security numbers, among other things
- If one or both parties own a business, the court may seal any sensitive information related to the business
Usually, judges are reluctant to seal the entire divorce records. It is often a better strategy to ask the court to redact a portion of your divorce decree. However, there is no guarantee that the court will make the decision in your favor. You can, of course, consult anexperienced divorce lawyer in Brainerd, MN to help you get the best possible outcome.
Where to Find Divorce Records in Brainerd, MN
As mentioned, anyone who knows where to look can find divorce records. In most states, including Minnesota, you can try one of the following options to find the divorce decrees.
However, keep in mind that if the divorce record is sealed, neither you nor a lawyer can access it.
Minnesota State’s Vital Records
If you are comfortable with finding court records online, you can start with a general search on your state’s vital records website. However, not all states will record marriages and /or divorces on the vital records site.
The Minnesota Office of Vital Records does not record marriages or divorces. Instead, the website will guide you to search for the county district court office that granted the divorce. You will need to know the name of the person and the county court where the divorce was granted. If you know the date, the search will be a lot easier.
You can order the copy of records online or you can visit the county court house, write an application, and collect the copies yourself. Make sure to check the website to see the detailed procedure. For example, some counties may not allow walk-in record access requests. In this case, you may have to send the application well in advance.
A Third-Party Website
Some third-party websites allow you to access public records for a small fee. These search engines not only enable searches in Minnesota. You can also find public records from other states.
Whether these sites can grant you access to Brainerd, MN divorce records depends on availability. To find a record, you’ll need to provide the name of the person and the location of the record. These search engines usually allow you to input a location as general as a state to specific city searches.
Another option is to contact an experienced divorce lawyer in Brainerd, MN. Lawyers know the court systems well-enough to find the desired divorce records as quickly as possible. Remember, divorce records are important as they can tell you about a person’s actual marital status.
An attorney can also assist you in understanding a divorce record after you access it. Remember: the state of Minnesota grants you the right to have any public record explained to you if you don’t understand it.
How to Find the Best Divorce Attorneys in Brainerd, MN
If you want access to someone else’s divorce records, experienced Brainerd divorce lawyers can help. An attorney can also help you understand divorce records. But how do you choose the right lawyer?
The best way to ensure your divorce attorney is up to the job is to look for experience. Of course, your chosen lawyer should meet Minnesota’s minimum standards for legal professionals. He or she should be licensed and, furthermore, licensed in the area where he or she practices.
Secondly, you want to make sure your chosen divorce lawyer has experience locating divorce records. During your initial consultation, ask if the attorney to share similar cases he or she has worked on.
Finally, always check an attorney’s online reviews. Check out what others have to say about being a client because this can give you a lot of information about what outcomes to expect from your Brainerd divorce attorney.
Sealing Your Divorce Decree in Brainerd, MN
Like most other court records, divorce decrees are also a public record. Anyone can access the information related to your divorce for free or by paying a small fee. However, you can request the court to seal a part or all of your divorce decree. Hopefully, this post will help you understand the significance of divorce records and keeping them sealed.
Talk to a Seasoned Divorce Lawyer in Brainerd, MN
Whether you want to get your divorce records sealed or find the divorce records of someone you know, hiring an experienced divorce lawyer in Brainerd, MN is the right way to do it. Family lawyers with proven track record, like Carlson & Jones, P.A. can provide you with the right legal advice. Call us today on 855-762-6548 for a free consultation or contact us online to see how we can help.
Originally published September 14, 2020 and updated September 1, 2021