Each state keeps its divorce records (or marriage dissolution certificates) in a governmental agency which may be able to release some, but not all of the contents. The Freedom of Information Act made it possible to search through some of a state’s vital records, but some states have privacy laws that prevent the general public from accessing these records unless they’re relatives or a legal representative. These laws prevent some information about children, monetary issues and other private data to be released to the public and are more stringent in some states than others.
Divorces weren’t always legal or commonplace in some states, so you may have a more difficult time finding information if that was the case in the state where you’re requesting a search. When a divorce was recorded it would likely contain such information as dates of birth, addresses, children involved and the main issues of the divorce. This information can be especially helpful if you’re searching through vital records for legal reasons or to locate a relative from your past.
All vital records of a family can become significant data for finding a missing piece of a family tree or to access a deeper level of a family’s history.
You might find new relatives when the elements of a divorce are revealed. For example, a person may have divorced, then remarried and brought children into the new marriage. This can be relevant and important information if a legal issue such as a will is being determined. Through a search for divorce information, you may also find that a person relocated and be able to find that person through such data.
States typically charge fees for a searching through vital records and they usually range from $10 to $20. The Department of Health and Vital Records is usually in charge of recording vital records throughout the state, but you may need to access some records through a state’s county clerk or determine the county where the event took place and apply to that court for information. Because of the lack of staff in some governmental agencies, you may wait quite a while for a reply from the state – and, the information you receive might not be as accurate or up-to-date as you would receive from a fee-based, Internet service.
Genealogy research is one of the main reasons for searching through a state’s vital records and professional genealogists are more likely to use Internet services than take the time and effort to go through the state. The powerful and sophisticated search engines the Internet sites use can find and report information usually within a matter of moments and the databases they have access to are far-reaching and can be helpful in finding more in-depth data.
Legal issues are another reason that vital records are important and might be part of an online or state-based search. A will or trust might need more vital record information before it can be carried out or a certain person might need to be located to pay past child support or other debts. Whatever the reason for a vital records search, it’s important to receive as thorough and accurate information as possible.
It’s natural to want to learn more about your ancestral past, and a search through public divorce records may be able to provide you with the exact information you need to go forward with a family tree or satisfy your curiosity about a person from the past. You’ll gain insight and perhaps valuable data that can help you move on to the next step in tracing your family history.