Divorce records from all over the U.S. are sometimes difficult to find online. They are another hidden gem of information that can assist you in advancing your family history and genealogy research.
What can you find in these records? Obviously the dates and location of the divorce proceeding, the date and location of the marriage, the woman’s maiden name, names of minor children, and the reason for the divorce. The reason can not only provide another part of your ancestor’s story but also may lead to more clues, especially in the case of desertion, where you may be able to find the location where the “deserting” party moved to.
WARNING: Some of the information in the Divorce Petitions may be difficult to read. There may be shocking claims, especially related to your ancestors’ physical and emotional cruelty, or other behavior. Be prepared.
In most cases, I did not include the links to County Courts, where most divorce records are now processed and the documents held. But these divorce documents for most states are partially held in either state archives or county clerk records. So you may wish to avail yourself of the county clerk and court archives, especially those that can be searched online.
Note: Please be aware that if you find the desired divorce record in an index, the holder of the actual materials (e.g., archive, county court, etc.) may charge a small fee to send you a copy of the material itself.
Note: Some of the links listed take you to a FamilySearch Collection of digital images. Near the bottom of the page under Film/Digital Notes is the name of each sub-collection. If there is a camera icon at the right of the name (in the Format column) then the collections’ images are browsable. If there is a camera with a key icon, it is only available at a Family History Center or affiliated library. If there is a film reel icon, then it is only available in microfilm format, not digital. To take full advantage, please make sure that you are logged in to FamilySearch. The results may be different if you are signed in, rather than not.
Below are links to the state’s divorce record and index collections that are available for free online.
(Updated December 2022)
For all Free Rhode Island Links, click on the category of interest:
Probate and Wills