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Maryland Divorce Records
During the colonial period in Maryland, no divorces were granted, although some separations were given by the Chancery Court. After the Revolutionary War, the Maryland General Assembly eventually began granting some divorces. In March 1842, the county courts were made Courts of Equity which allowed them jurisdiction over granting divorces. For Baltimore city, the Court of Common Pleas had jurisdiction over divorces.
There is no statewide index to divorce cases in the state of Maryland before 1992. To locate a divorce, the county must be determined first. The court that granted the divorce, approximate date, names of the parties and the case number are also necessary for locating a divorce for a couple. If the case number is not known, there are some county indexes that may be available.
Maryland State Archives
The holdings of the Maryland State Archives include divorce records for many counties of Maryland up to the 1980s. Divorces for Baltimore City up to 1982 are only available at the Maryland State Archives.
The Maryland State Archives provides a search for divorce records utilizing some indexes they have available. However, only a few counties can be searched per request. Visit the Maryland State Archives website for more information regarding certain stipulations in ordering search requests. Information stating cost of research is provided on their website, Placing Research and Copy Orders.
Maryland County Circuit Courts
Each county’s circuit court has an index to their divorces that gives the case numbers. The Circuit Court can also supply a copy of the divorce case file. A list of Maryland Circuit Courts and their corresponding contact information can be found on the website,List of Maryland Circuit Courts.
Family History Library
To access records at the Family History Library, the reference information must be obtained (microfilm, microfiche, compact disk number and book call number) from the Family History Library Catalog. Instructions on how to use the Family History Library catalog can be found here.
Some divorce records are available at the Family History Library.
One source called, Divorces and Names Changed in Maryland: by act of the Legislature, 1634-1867 by Mary Keysor Meyer includes abstracts of some divorces.
On the county level, the Family History Library only has divorce cases from 1827 to 1912 for Harford County. To obtain the microfilm information, click here.
Division of Vital Statistics
The Division of Vital Statistics only gives verifications of divorces starting in Jan 1961 and does not have the actual divorce decrees. The divorce decree must be obtained from the county that the divorce took place in. See Maryland County Circuit Courts listed above.
Information provided here was taken from the following sources:
Eichholz, Alice. Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, c2004).
The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America. (Logan, Utah : Everton Publishers, c2006).
Maryland: Research Outline. (Salt Lake City, Utah : Corp. of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of L.D.S., c1988).
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