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Documenting a Divorce in the U.S.


Documenting a Divorce in the U.S.

Divorce is the tragic process of granting certain legal rights related to marriage. The chaos, however, leaves many paper trails. There are also ‘patterns in the pain’, historical migration paths to American locales where divorce was more likely.

Members: 9
Latest Activity: Oct 28, 2020

Outline for documenting American divorces

Divorce Research for GenyWise.doc

Many ancestors, near and long ago, are lost in these American records. In this Group and discussions we will learn that using original divorce documents is part of the process of appreciating our ancestors and solving pedigree problems. We will discuss U.S. search strategies and the court documents themselves, with samples from newly available Family History Library collections.


1. The legal proceedings surrounding divorces in America naturally left an array of documentation with varying types of evidence. Some of these paper trails are public from colonial and pioneer days up to the current decade.

2. These court documents proffer invaluable information about name changes, residence changes, children, occupations, property, etc. They often add stories and testaments to the bare facts of the skeleton in the family closet; emotional, financial, religious, and social contexts may be revealed.

3. These documents may be filed in several jurisdictions based on changing residency requirements. The historical documents were not created for genealogists, were often filed with voluminous court papers, and were poorly indexed. Their use is complex!

Discussion Forum

Broken Branches in the family tree caused by divorce.

Started by Juanita Hendrickson. Last reply by Juanita Hendrickson May 17, 2010. 3 Replies

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Documenting a Divorce in the U.S. to add comments!

Comment by Beth Gatlin on January 25, 2010 at 5:42pm
The Cook County, IL circuit court found my great-grandparents' divorce case! Hopefully it won't be long until I get a copy of the file!
Comment by Beth Gatlin on January 9, 2010 at 12:15am
I recently requested a search for my great-grandparents' divorce documents from Cook County, IL, probably 1922 or 1923. Hopefully they will be found!
Comment by Nancy Netter on November 3, 2009 at 7:53am
Thank you for your source document.

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