Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Helpcyn

Finding a Divorce Decree

Recommended Posts

I am trying to find a divorce decree for my friend who was divorced in Riverside County, California in 1987 (+/-). Superior Court records have a gap where no records can be found. This gap includes the years between 1982 and 1991. We live in Arizona and are both on a fixed income and need help with this. If I could find the document number, I would have something to go on but this has been impossible so far. Could you please help me figure out where to go from here? Thank you for any help you can give, Sincerely, Helpcyn

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am trying to find a divorce decree for my friend who was divorced in Riverside County, California in 1987 (+/-). Superior Court records have a gap where no records can be found. This gap includes the years between 1982 and 1991. 

 

Hard to believe that there's a 9 year gap where no records can be found.

 

What, exactly, have you done to determine that?

 

Be specific.

 

What did you do?

Where did you look?

Who did you talk to?

What were you told?

 

Can't suggest what to do next without knowing what you've done so far.

 

Might also explain why your friend needs these records a couple of decades later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The divorcee may not have had an attorney.  But, even if she did only a true pack rat of an attorney would keep divorce files for twenty or more years.  In addition, good file management suggests that the attorney need not keep copies of documents that should be readily available in the court's files.

 

I wpuld suggest to the friend that she contact a title insurance company in or near Riverside County.  Title examiners are more skilled than anyone else about how to find things in the Clerk's office.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am trying to find a divorce decree for my friend who was divorced in Riverside County, California in 1987 (+/-).

 

Query why she needs/wants her decree?

 

 

 

Superior Court records have a gap where no records can be found.

 

Please elaborate as to what you mean by this.  Any file from the 1980s is either going to be in an off-site storage facility or will be on microfiche (questionable whether Riverside has converted its microfiched records to a digital format).  If your friend doesn't know her case number, the court clerk's office should have an index that can be searched by party name.

 

 

 

If I could find the document number, I would have something to go on

 

What do you mean by "document number"?  Any document filed relating to your friend's case should bear the case number, but individual documents within a case file do not have "document numbers."

 

 

 

Could you please help me figure out where to go from here?

 

It's difficult to make suggestions without knowing the answers to the questions above and without knowing what you/she have done thus far.  I would not expect, however, that this is something that could be easily handled other than by personally visiting the clerk's office or by paying a local attorney service.  By the way, if this happened in one of the branch courts in Riverside County, instead of at the courthouse in the City of Riverside, this could be a very daunting task.  Finally, I recall that, at some point in the late 1980s/early 1990s, the central brach of the Riverside County Superior Court conducted business from multiple locations while the courthouse was being renovated or was torn down and rebuilt.  It's certainly possible that some case files were lost or destroyed in the process.

 

 

 

Her attorney would have a copy or his attorney would also.

 

As an initial matter, this assumes that OP's friend had an attorney and remembers who the attorney was.  Additionally, it is incredibly unlikely that any attorney would still maintain a file for a divorce client nearly three decades after the decree was entered.  With a few exceptions (none of which are relevant here), most lawyers destroy closed client files (or turn them over to the clients) after 7-10 years.

 

 

 

good file management suggests that the attorney need not keep copies of documents that should be readily available in the court's files.

 

I completely disagree.  I've never heard of an attorney not keeping copies of filed pleadings.  In some cases, it could cost a small fortune if it became necessary to re-open a file and obtain copies of everything from the court's file.

 

 

 

I wpuld suggest to the friend that she contact a title insurance company in or near Riverside County.  Title examiners are more skilled than anyone else about how to find things in the Clerk's office.

 

Title companies employ persons with skill and training with respect to documents recorded with the county recorder, but they have no particular expertise with respect to documents filed with the courts.  While it's possible that a divorce decree might be recorded with the county recorder, in the abstract, it's just as possible that it might not be.  Even if the OP's friend's divorce decree was recorded, I don't know any title company that provides search services to the general public except in connection with the potential issuance of a policy of title insurance.  However documents recorded with the Riverside County Recorder do appear to be searchable online:  http://www.asrclkrec.com/Recorder/RecordsIndexSearch.aspx.  If that doesn't work, I would suggest the OP's friend contact an attorney service in Riverside.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always destroyed copies of documents that are in the Court's fies after a few years (usually five years).  I chose not to pay file storage companies to store such documents.  Although it may be expensive to recover such filed documents, I have never had to bear that expense.  The most common reason for requesting such records comes from the former clients.  Typically, they will ask for a copy of a divorce decree (as in this case) or a bankruptcy filing, including the discharge order.   I look up the file summary on my computer and give them the case number and phone number of the clerk.  The alternative is for me to request the return of the box from storage, riffle through the files, select the required document, copy it, and mail or fedex it to the former client.  In your practice you may choose to serve as a storage and retrieval facility for your former clients but I do not.  I do not recall ever having to reopen a case that has been closed so long that the clerk's office has sent the file to the commonwealth's offsite archive facility.

 

Regarding the suggestion of contacting a title company, I realize that title examiners typically live in the record room.  But those that I have known have developed, over years of living in the courthouse, a rapport with the clerks which seldom exists between the attorneys and the clerks.  In  other words, as a practical matter, a title examiner is more likely to be of assistance in getting a clerk to help find a lost file than an attorney.  I am not suggesting that the title company is in the business of searching for divorce records since I know they are not.  But if the OP could get in touch with one of their title examiners she might be able to get him to (unofficially) do an investigation the next time he is in the courthouse.  Also, a long-toothed title examiner would certainly know exactly what happened to the court's records during the period in question.  I am trying to offer the person a practical suggestion for solving her problem.

 

PS   I have heard of a law firm in Arkansas that has a policy of destroying client files involving real estate transactions about a year after the case closes.  We will undoubtedly hear more about that in the coming election year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always destroyed copies of documents that are in the Court's fies after a few years. . . .

 

I'm not sure in what state(s) you practice or practiced (or whether your screen name is any indication).  My prior response was specific to the State of California, which the state of concern in this thread.

 

As far as maintaining client files after the conclusion of representation, there is a fair amount of published material (mostly in the form of opinions from local bar associations).  If I remember correctly, it's a 5-7 year minimum retention period, with any earlier destruction at the lawyer's risk.  In any event, we are in agreement that the chances that the OP's friend's former lawyer (if, in fact, the friend had a lawyer) will still have any of the papers relating to the case are infinitessimal.

 

With respect to title companies, what you seem not to understand is that California courts and county recorders are completely separate agencies and frequently not located in the same building (or even in the same city).  Thus, the expertise and experience of a title searcher isn't going to be of any use when it comes to locating old court files.  You suggested that the OP "might be able to" get a title searcher to "do an investigation the next time he is in the courthouse," but that overlooks the fact that title searchers "live" at the county recorder's office, not "in the courthouse."  In the case of Riverside County, the three buildings out of which the Riverside branch conducts business are located in downtown Riverside, while the Riverside County Recorder is located nearly ten miles away and almost in a different city.  And, if the case was handled in one of the branch courts (e.g., Banning, Blythe, Indio, or Palm Springs), then you're potentially looking at a drive of over 160 miles from the courthouse to the recorder's office.  In fact, the Blythe branch is closer to Phoenix, AZ than it is to the Riverside County Recorder's office.

 

While I recognize that you were "trying to offer the person a practical suggestion for solving her problem," a suggestion that would have the practical effect of sending the OP's friend on a wild goose chase isn't of much use.  I wasn't cracking on you for offering suggestions; I was simply pointing out that, while your suggestions were well intentioned, they were flawed, and I offered my own practical suggestions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...