Are Divorce Records Public in Massachusetts?

Looking at Massachusetts divorce records.

Divorce records in Massachusetts are generally considered public records. This means that basic information such as the names of the parties involved, the date of the divorce, and the court handling the case can be accessed by the public. However, sensitive details like:

  • financial disclosures,
  • child custody agreements, and
  • social security numbers

are typically confidential and protected by law. So, while most divorce records are public, some information within them remains confidential to protect individuals’ privacy.

Understanding Divorce Records

Divorce records are official documents that detail the legal dissolution of a marriage. These records encompass various types of documents, such as:

  • divorce decrees,
  • divorce certificates, and
  • court filings.

When a couple decides to end their marriage, a record of the divorce is created, and this record can have a lasting impact on their lives.

For example, suppose you’re considering remarrying or need to prove your marital status for legal matters. In that case, divorce records become vital documents. They can also be used to show:

  • child custody arrangements,
  • alimony agreements, and
  • property division decisions.

Understanding the different types of divorce records and their significance is the first step in navigating this area of family law effectively.

Public vs. Confidential Records

One of the most critical distinctions in the realm of divorce records is between public and confidential information. Public records are those that can be accessed by anyone, while confidential records contain sensitive information that is protected by law. Knowing which category your divorce records fall into is crucial.

Public divorce records typically include basic information such as:

  • the names of the parties involved,
  • the date of the divorce, and
  • the court that handled the case.

Confidential information, on the other hand, can encompass sensitive details like:

  • financial disclosures,
  • child custody agreements, and
  • even social security numbers.

Public Access to Divorce Records

In Massachusetts, public divorce records are maintained by government agencies, primarily the Probate and Family Court. These records are relatively accessible and can be obtained through a formal request process. If you need to access public divorce records, you can visit the court in person or make your request online or by mail.

It’s essential to be aware that there may be fees associated with obtaining public divorce records. These fees can vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific records you’re requesting. However, accessing public records is generally more straightforward and cost-effective than accessing confidential ones.

Confidential Divorce Records

Confidential divorce records contain sensitive information that is not readily available to the public. This category of records is typically only accessible to the parties involved in the divorce, their legal representatives, and certain government agencies.

If you’re concerned about protecting sensitive information within confidential divorce records, there are legal mechanisms to address this. For example, certain documents can be redacted or sealed to prevent the public from viewing sensitive details. Consulting with an attorney is advisable when dealing with confidential records to ensure your privacy remains intact.

Maintaining Privacy

Protecting your privacy in divorce records is a valid concern, especially when confidential information is involved. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to safeguard your sensitive details, it’s essential to take proactive steps. This can include redacting or sealing specific documents, as mentioned earlier.

Additionally, I often advise my clients to be cautious when sharing divorce records with third parties, such as potential employers or new partners. Understanding what information is confidential and how to handle it can prevent unintended consequences in various aspects of your life.

Affordable Massachusetts Divorce Attorneys

An affordable divorce is possible. At Afford Law, our fees are based on your income, so the less you earn, the less you pay. Our mission is to provide experienced legal help you can afford.

If you can’t afford our lower rates for a traditional attorney-client relationship, you have another option. Our legal coaching service can save you money and still give you access to a skilled attorney. In this arrangement, you represent yourself in court while we work with you behind the scenes to prepare you every step of the way. This service is available to you for one low monthly fee.


In conclusion, divorce records in Massachusetts are a vital aspect of family law. Understanding the difference between public and confidential records, knowing how to access them, and taking steps to protect your privacy when necessary are essential components of navigating this area successfully.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For personalized guidance on divorce records in Massachusetts or any other legal matter, please consult with an attorney.

More To Explore