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 that 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 these county clerk an court archives, especially those that can be searched online.
Note: Please be aware that if you find a desired divorce record in an index, that 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 below 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. Make sure that you are logged in to the site, so that the collections that are browsable from anywhere will be displayed.
Below are links to the state’s divorce record and index collections that are available for free online.
(Updated February, 2021; recently added links are in BOLD):
- Berkeley County Chancery Orders, 1831-1926
- Boone County Chancery Orders, 1865-1927
- Cabell County Chancery Orders, 1831-1926
- Calhoun County Order Books, 1856-1975
- Clay County Order Books, 1858-1960
- Fayette County Chancery Orders, 1832-1927
- Gilmer County Order Books, 1846-1927
- Hampshire County Chancery Orders, 1831-1929
- Hardy County Chancery Order Book, 1873-1880
- Hardy County, Chancery Order Books, 1831-1929
- Jefferson County Order Books, 1813-1872
- Lincoln County Chancery Orders, 1909-1956
- Logan County Chancery Orders, 1868-1960
- Marshall County Chancery Order Books, 1873-1906
- Mason County Chancery Orders, 1831-1929
- McDowell County Chancery Orders, 1858-1928
- Mercer County Chancery Orders, 1837-1927
- Mineral County Chancery Orders, 1866-1927
- Mingo County Chancery Orders, 1895-1960
- Monongalia County Chancery Orders, 1831-1960
- Morgan County Chancery Orders, 1831-1930
- Preston County Chancery Index : 1869-1972
- Preston County Chancery Orders, 1864-1932
- Putnam County Chancery Orders, 1848-1960
- Roane County Chancery Orders, 1856-1927
- Summers County Chancery Orders, 1874-1927
- Tyler County Chancery Orders, 1865-1929
- Wyoming County Chancery Orders, 1850-1927
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!
For other Free West Virginia Links, click on the category of interest: