1.877.286.2773services@mass-doc.com Customers must use the website to place an order. Phone orders are not accepted.
Depending on your requirements, we can provide Plain, Attested, Court Certified, Digitized (Emailed PDFs), and/or Apostilled Copies (State Certified for International Customers) of all non-impounded divorce records.

Custom Request? It's our Specialty. Have Questions?

Email us for a Custom Divorce Copy Quote.
FAQ: Do you provide rush service?

Yes!

Expedited service, our custom tailor-made, "lickety-split" service, including Apostille State Certification for international customers and worldwide delivery in 5 - 7 business days or less, is available from Massachusetts divorce court held at the probate courts in Bristol, Middlesex, Norfolk, and Suffolk counties.

Our special "lickety-split" rush service is only offered for divorce records not stored in offsite storage.
FAQ: How do I Find Divorce Records in Massachusetts? What is a Certificate of Divorce Absolute, and what does it look like?
FAQ: Where are my Divorce Papers Located? How do I get a Copy? What if it was in 1993, or back in the 70s, or 80s?
FAQ: I need it fast! Order your divorce records here! If it's not in offsite storage, receive it in 10 - 14 business days or less.
Author Profile

About the Author

J. James Simonson, a journalism graduate from Suffolk University in Boston, stands out for his specialization in contemporary Massachusetts court records, focusing on probate, divorce, and estate cases. Through detailed research and analysis, he supports law firms, paralegals, financial institutions, and genealogists, seamlessly connecting traditional genealogical methods with the complexities of modern legal proceedings. Known for his adept interpretation of legal documents, Simonson is invaluable for those exploring intricate legal histories. Actively keeping abreast of the latest legal trends, he continuously enhances his contributions to the field.

    Are Massachusetts Divorce Records Public Records?


  • "In Massachusetts, almost all divorce records, sometimes referred to as divorce dockets, divorce case files or divorce decrees, are considered public records and open to anyone for public inspection."
  • Financial information beyond specifics in a separation agreement is open only to the parties named in the divorce, their lawyer, or other designated legal representative.
  • A small percentage of divorce records are NOT public because the court impounded them. These records are accessible only by the parties named on the divorce petition or their legal representative.

  • Why Would a Massachusetts Divorce Record be Impounded?


  • Courts usually impound divorce records when famous individuals are involved or when there is a possibility of emotional or physical abuse, and one of the parties wants to keep their location confidential.
  • The presiding judge could also impound the file for almost any reason. Whether a divorce is restricted is entirely at a judge's discretion.
  • You can review an application to impound a court record, MOTION FOR IMPOUNDMENT & AFFIDAVIT G.L. c. 209A, § 8 or G.L. c. 258E, § 10 from the Massachusetts Trial Court.
  • Photo IDs are needed to access impounded records and are usually only done in person, face to face, at the court.
  • Other more recent restrictions on divorce records, i.e., say, post the year 2000, including restricting access to Qualified Domestic Orders (QDROs) for retirement funds to only the parties named on the record or their legal representative.

    Where are Massachusetts Divorce Records Located?


  • As with other state vital records, such as birth, marriage, and death records, changes have occurred over the years regarding the current location of divorce file records.
  • Since as long ago as 1922 and up through 2024, Massachusetts divorce records have been filed, processed, and heard at the county probate court where one of the parties filed.
  • Prior to 1922, divorces were heard in the Superior Courts.
  • Today, couples must file divorce records in the county where they last lived together as a married couple rather than where they individually reside during the divorce proceedings.
  • For instance, if Party "A" and Party "B" lived together in Boston but separated, and Party "A" moved to Framingham, they should have filed for divorce in Boston, Suffolk County, not in Framingham, Middlesex County.
  • However, if both parties moved out of the county where they last lived as a married couple, the person filing for divorce in Massachusetts must file in the county where they reside. Keep this crucial factor in mind when searching for divorce records.

  • What if My Divorce was in 1983? Are my Divorce Papers still at the Divorce Court?

     

  • With few exceptions, most county courts have archived divorce files before the 1990s in off-site storage facilities.
  • These older divorce files must be ordered and returned to the courthouse for processing. Lead time is about two to three weeks.
  • It is important to note that the years listed below represent the filing dates rather than when the divorce became final.
  • For example, if a divorce were filed in Bristol County in 1985 but not finalized until 1990, the original docket would be based on the 1985 filing date and stored off-site.

Record Accessibility and Archived Divorce Papers Schedule


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Bristol Probate and Family Court, Taunton, MA

  • 2001 - 2024: All divorce records are complete, onsite at the courthouse, immediately accessible, and available for expedited service.
  • 1992 - 2000: All records are in storage. Two-day turnaround back to Taunton. Not available for expedited service.
  • 1922 - 1991: All records are in a state archived storage facility. Give or take, it's about a two-to-three-week turnaround back to Taunton. Not available for expedited service.
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    Middlesex Probate and Family Court, Woburn, MA (formerly Cambridge, MA):

  • 1990 - 2024: All divorce records are complete, onsite at the courthouse, immediately accessible, and available for expedited service.
  • 1922 - 1989: Records in state archive facility. Give or take, about a two-to-three-week turnaround back to Woburn. Not available for expedited service.
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    Norfolk Probate and Family Court, Canton, MA

  • 1922 - 2024: All divorce records are complete, onsite at the courthouse, immediately accessible, and available for expedited service.
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    Suffolk Probate and Family Court, Boston, MA

  • 1922 - 2024: All divorce records are complete, onsite at the courthouse, immediately accessible, and available for expedited service.
  • However, Suffolk Probate is currently transitioning older probate files to offsite storage.
  • As of December 15, 2023, Suffolk probate files filed before 1962 are archived. All divorce papers from 1922 and to 2024, are still complete, onsite at the courthouse, immediately accessible, and available for expedited service.

    • How are Massachusetts Divorce Records Indexed?

       

    • If the county of divorce is unknown, a statewide index from 1952 to 2021* is available at the Massachusetts Department of Health's Registry of Vital Records in Boston.
    • [*Indexes for 2022 and 2024 not yet available at the State Vital Records office but are available at each county probate court.]
    • This statewide index at the Registry of Vital Records from 1952 - 2021 is not available online.
    • You can access it in person and only by appointment at the Registry of Vital Records Research Facility.
    • Also, as valuable as this index is, the index is known to contain errors and omissions.
    • It is an index containing party names, the year filed, the divorce county, and (usually) the docket number.
    • The actual divorce file is still and always will be located at the county probate court or, if archived, in one of the archive facilities off-site from the court.
    • In addition to the statewide index at the Registry of Vital Records, each county probate court maintains a county-wide index of divorce records From 1922 - 2024.
    • Each probate court runs slightly differently regarding how divorce records are indexed. This is simply an overview of indexes to the docket numbers.
    • Divorce papers and certificates can be ordered from the courts. Processing time varies by county. Essex County, for example, can take up to eight - twelve weeks to process archived files.
    • Visiting the courthouses in person is usually necessary to view the original file, make copies, or obtain certificates. Indexes, however, can be viewed online, but not the actual divorce papers.
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      Bristol Probate and Family Court, Taunton, MA

      From 1922 to 1970, divorce indexes are alphabetically in book form. These books are only available at the courthouse.

      From 1971 to 2024, divorce indexes are in a free computer database accessible onsite at any state probate court and online through the Bristol County Probate Court database.



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      Middlesex Probate and Family Court, Woburn, MA (Formerly in Cambridge)

      1922 to 1974 divorce indexes are alphabetical in book form. Unfortunately, these books are only available at the courthouse.

      1975 to 1990 divorce indexes are alphabetical on 3x5 index cards stored in filing cabinets at the courthouse.

      1991 to 2024 divorce indexes are in a free computer database accessible onsite at any state probate court and online through the Middlesex County Probate Court database.



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      Norfolk Probate and Family Court, Canton, MA

      1922 to 1950 divorce indexes are alphabetical in book form. Unfortunately, these books are only available at the courthouse.

      From 1950 to 2024, divorce indexes are in a free computer database accessible onsite at any state probate court and online through the Norfolk County Probate Court database.



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      Suffolk Probate and Family Court, Boston, MA

      1922 to 1972 indexes are alphabetical in book form. Unfortunately, these books are only available at the courthouse.

      From 1973 to 2024, indexes are in a free computer database accessible onsite at any state probate court and online through the Suffolk County Probate Court database.

      There is also a combination of book form indexes from 1973 to the early 2000s. Unfortunately, these books are only available at the courthouse.


      I'm Researching Family History.


    • How Do I Find my Great Grandparent's Divorce Records?
    • They Divorced Before 1922.
    • From 1887 until 1922, the different Superior Courts throughout Massachusetts, such as the Suffolk County and Middlesex County Superior Courts, handled divorce cases.
    • The Massachusetts Court and Judicial Archives, located in the same building as the Massachusetts Archives in Boston, across the street from the JFK Library, and behind the UMass Boston campus, on Boston Harbor, has some docket books that index divorces for Hampshire, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, and Worcester counties.
    • Divorce files are usually available at the county Superior Court, where they were initially filed or stored in off-site storage facilities. Retrieving these records can take several weeks due to the time required.
    • Again, the state archives have only the index - not the actual case files.
    • The Supreme Judicial Court handled divorce cases before 1887 and as far back as 1786. Law dockets index these records. The Judicial Archives holds the indexes and the files at the Massachusetts Archives.
    • Various courts within the state heard records before 1786 and as early as 1639. In most cases, the Massachusetts State Archives holds the originals.

    • Record Retrieval and Worldwide Delivery Service


    • We provide divorce file service From 1922 - 2024 for Bristol, Norfolk, Middlesex, and Suffolk counties.
    • If you would like us to process a divorce file request, please visit our Massachusetts divorce file request form.
    • We generally deliver divorce records by USPS Priority Mail within 10 - 14 business days or less.
    • Expedited service is available for non-archived case files. Alternatively, a person can request scanned and digitized plain copies be emailed as PDFs.

    • Official and Helpful State of Massachusetts Divorce Information


    • General Laws of Massachusetts, Chapter 208: Divorce. Causes for Divorce
    • General Laws of Massachusetts, Chapter 210: Adoption of Children and Change of Name
    • Lawyer Referral Service Massachusetts Bar Association
    • Birth, Marriage, Divorce, and Death Record Information for all Other States.