United States Divorce Records
Divorces before the twentieth century were uncommon and in some places illegal. Records of divorces contain data on family members, their marital history, their property, residences, and dates of other important events such as the children's births.
Some of the earliest divorces were granted by state legislatures and may be listed in legislature records. County officials began keeping divorce records as soon as a court was established in the area. Early divorce actions are found in dockets, minutes, and case files of the county, circuit, or district court. In some areas of the United States, divorces have been under the jurisdiction of a chancery, common pleas, domestic, probate, superior, or supreme judicial court.
Divorce records are often open to the public and can be obtained by contacting the clerk of the court. You will also find clues to separations and divorces in local Newspapers. The few divorce records in the Family History Library are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
- [STATE], [COUNTY] - COURT RECORDS
- [STATE], [COUNTY] - DIVORCE RECORDS
- [STATE], [COUNTY] - VITAL RECORDS
You can find further information about where to find divorce records in research pages available for each state.