Document Type

Article

Publication Title

Illinois State Genealogical Society Quarterly

Publication Date

Winter 2009

Abstract

While marriage records are among the easiest sources of genealogical information to locate, the process for finding a divorce record can be much less intuitive. Early Illinois divorces were not recorded at the state level, and rarely recorded in their own separate record series even by the counties; however, divorces were recorded as individual legal cases by the courts, and can often provide a great deal of family history. As court cases where a plaintiff was required to show cause, divorce records can provide not just the names of the husband and wife, but the location and date the marriage being dissolved took place (particularly useful for couples married outside of Illinois), the number of children born into the marriage and their names, which spouse received custody of the children, the reason for the divorce, and in cases of abandonment, the location the spouse has moved to if it is known. This brief paper discusses how to locate Illinois divorce records, what information they might contain, and suggestions for interpreting the information found therein.

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