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Roots and branches

Question: I recently found that my great-grandfather had been divorced. Where can I look for the record, and what information might I find on this record?

Question: I recently found that my great-grandfather had been divorced. Where can I look for the record, and what information might I find on this record?

Answer: Divorce is a court action recorded in court records at the county level. In some states, divorces may be at the township level. All court records may have to be examined. In many states, the divorces were done in Superior Court up to about 1850. Most divorces now will be in civil court records or minutes. Sometimes they will be found with marriages, probate records or land records. In some cases, the records will appear in family court. Case files may provide affidavits, lists of children with their ages, property inventories and other data. The date and place of marriage, ages or birth dates of the couple, birthplaces and the grounds for the divorce are usually included. Other family names may be included because the children may have been under the care of others.



For women filing for divorce, it was much more difficult. One record in Santa Barbara filed in 1918 was not granted until 1922, due to the husband’s whereabouts being unknown at that time. The abuse and non-support did not count, just his disappearance.

To find out about the individual states and their requirements, check “The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy,” published by Ancestry. This book is available at most libraries that have any genealogical collections.




What’s new: Alisa Austin reports that the CD-ROM “Index of Irish Wills, 1484-1858” may now be checked out from the Madelyn Helling Library. 929.1 Ind.

Josie Plescia Vaughn is the librarian of the Nevada County Genealogy Society. Send questions to NCGS, P.O. Box 176, Cedar Ridge 95924, or e-mail


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