Overview of Topic
For Additional Research
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Search Topic 31:

Free Marriage Records & Free Divorce Records

(Note: To go directly to Online
Marriage & Divorce Resources,
click here)

Web Search Guides

by Tom Stewart, Associate Editor

I. Overview of Topic

Can you find out if somebody's married or divorced in the U.S., using public information?

The answer is yes, but that answer has to be qualified a little. Why? Because free marriage records and free divorce records are geographically scattered in the U.S. They're maintained by both States and Counties, and there are 50 States (plus the District of Columbia) and over 3,000 Counties. Unfortunately, there is no national repository of free marriage records or free divorce records. So it's not possible, for example, to simply go to a national online database, put in someone's name and date-of-birth, and find out if he or she has been married or divorced.

However, it is possible to access public records in the States and/or Counties in which the individual has lived (say, for the past ten years) and may have gotten married or divorced in, and to search for a marriage license or divorce record. In this way, you can determine his or her marital status with reasonable certainty.

In addition, you can run a basic online background check at US Search or other online background check service to determine if the person is living with someone of the opposite sex (i.e, someone who is about the same age), and also, if the person is living with children or teen-agers. These are also good indicators of the person's present and past marital status.

If you are considering entering into a serious relationship with someone it's obviously very important to know that person is telling the truth about his/her marital status. The emotional cost of finding out that the person is married (or is not divorced as he/she has claimed) can be high. There are potential financial costs, too. For example, if you should marry someone who has been delinquent on child support payments from a former marriage, you may be found jointly liable for those payments.

As is well-known, men are more prone to lie about their marital status than women. However, nowadays, both sexes are wise to check out the marital status of potential long-term partners or spouses. The Internet has made the process much easier than it used to be. In the past, if you wanted to find out if someone had gotten married in a given County, you'd have to visit the courthouse and search for marriage records in person (or hire a private investigator to do it for you). Now, the Internet makes it possible to do this free marriage records search online in many cases. Many States and Counties now provide free marriage records and free divorce records on public websites; and most of those which don't will provide this information by phone.

A WORD OF CAUTION: Today, innumerable websites and online information providers promise to answer the question "Is he (ore she) married?" for a fee. However, I've found that most of these sites only offer searches in a few States that happen to provide statewide repositories of free marriage records or free divorce records. In those few States you can just visit the State's web page and run the search yourself, and for free, using the resource list below). And in States that do not provide such repositories, you can probably still utilize the information in this report to get the information you need.

Inevitably, it's preferable for you to do the research yourself, contacting the appropriate government offices on your own.


Before starting your research, take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the basics of how these types of records are maintained by government agencies.

1. Marriage Records

Marriage licenses are maintained at the County level. However, most States can search for and issue marriage certificates (a document certifying that a marriage has taken place, not the same as a marriage license, which is obtained prior to the marriage).

It might seem that the easiest way to search for free marriage records would be to search the State's index of marriages, using the groom's name or bride's maiden name, plus some other identifier, like date of birth. As said, you can do it this way in a few States, like Texas and Florida. But most States don't make it this easy. For example, Illinois, Massachusetts, Washington, and many others don't maintain State repositories at all. You have to go to the County level to search for free marriage records. Click here for access to all the State and County links currently available which allow you to name search for marriage records. Some of these websites allow you to name-search; others require you to provide more detailed information or take additional steps.

What if the State and/or County where you need to search isn't listed below (i.e., doesn't have a website that provides free marriage record info)? In this case, I suggest you simply call the County itself and request that a name search be conducted. You'll find this is easy in most small Counties, and gets progressively harder the bigger (more populous) the County is. But it can be done in nearly all Counties if you're persistent and don't mind getting stuck in voice mail jail awhile. After a few minutes (hopefully) a clerk will answer who can run your name search for you while you wait. They may, however, want you to specify a span of years, e.g., 1995-2005 for your search., so you should be ready to do that if asked.

Marriage record indexes are maintained by a variety of offices in the nation's Counties. In most cases, you'll need the Recorder's Office; in some cases, it'll be the Family Court (in a few rural counties, it's the "Filing Office").

We've found the best strategy is to simply tell the telephone operator, "I would like to have a marriage records search conducted. What office can do that for me?" and let them connect you to the proper office.

You can find telephone numbers for the County or Counties you need to call at Background Check Gateway.com.

Note: If you need to find out what County a given City is in, go to NACO.org and click on "City Search."

2. Divorce Records

As in the case of marriage records, a few States maintain statewide divorce indexes. At present, these are Texas, Florida, and Nevada. As more become available in the future, I'll add them to this report. If you're not searching for a divorce filing in one of those States, you need to search at the County level.

Again, the easiest way to do this may be online, using the County website. We've included a listing of all the free divorce records County websites we could find below). If the County you need isn't listed, then try calling them. To get the County's phone number, visit their website (via Google) or go to Background Check Gateway.

Across the U.S., divorce cases are handled in various courts in the various jurisdictions. In some, they're handled in Superior or Probate Court, in others, in Family Court. Just ask the County telephone operator for the proper office to determine if a given individual has been divorced in their County. Note: If you need to find out what County a given City is in, go to NACO.org and click on "City Search."

3. Verifying Your Subject's Identity and Finding Past Addresses

Are you certain your prospective date or partner or spouse is who he/she claims to be? If not, you may need to do a little basic identity verification before you start your research.

It's useless to search for free marriage records or free divorce records for "William Johnson" if his real name turns out to be "Harry Wallace."

Identity verification can range from simple to complex. Complex would involve biometric identification such as fingerprints and eye capillaries, that sort of thing. So let's concentrate on simple. You know his or her name, or at least the name you were told. Does this name appear in the telephone directory or an online directory like Whowhere.com, corresponding to the address you were given? If so, you might try calling the telephone number and see if he/she answers. That's a pretty good, if not foolproof, way to check the person's identity.

But you also need to know where the person has lived for the past five to ten years so that you can check for marriage or divorce records in those jurisdictions. For example, if you want to check for marriage records, and your subject has lived in Chicago for the past year and Cincinnati for the seven years prior to that, you would then check Cook County IL and Hamilton County OH. Since many people get married in Las Vegas, you'd probably check Clark County NV as well. If no marriage license shows up in any of these areas, that is a pretty good indication he is not married.

Casual conversation is often the easiest way to find out where your subject has lived. Internet research is another. You can get an instant background check conducted (including address history) for moderate cost at US Search



Here are a couple more basic facts you need to know about free marriage records.

  1. Marriage record indexes (i.e., simple lists of marriage records by the parties' names) usually provide the info you're looking for. You just want to know if the person is married. You don't need a certified copy of the license. You'll find that there are websites (e.g., VitalChek.com) set up primarily to provide certified copies, mainly for legal use by the parties themselves. But to use such sites you need to be one of the parties (husband or wife), or else a relative or lawyer of the parties, and you need to know when the marriage took place and where. Obviously, if you knew all this, you wouldn't be conducting your search in the first place.
  2. Initially, you'll search the person's present State/County of residence. You should also search his/her past States/Counties of residence. So you need to determine past areas of residence. Try to encourage him/her to talk about himself, and reveal where he/she has lived in the past, then search records in those areas. Alternatively, you can run a basic public-records background check, which should reveal address history and whether your subject is currently living with someone about the same age and opposite sex (presumably a wife or husband), and/or children. As said, a good source for online background checks is US Search. (Note that it's always a good idea to run a basic background check , even if you also conduct a marriage license search using our list of of online resources, below.)

Here are a couple more basic facts you need to know about divorce records.

  1. As in researching free marriage records, you must first know where the event occurred. In this case, though, it's easy -- or should be. Just ask. After all, the person is claiming he/she "got divorced." So it's reasonable to ask, "Where?" Then it's a simple matter of contacting that County and finding out if there are free divorce records available there. (Alternatively, you can search all Counties corresponding to his/her address history.)
  2. Again, as in the case of free marriage records, some States/Counties provide websites that index this info, some don't. Scan our list of links below -- if the jurisdiction you need isn't listed you'll need to call them and ask the clerk to do a name search while you wait.

That's it - our ten minutes are up! (OK, maybe twelve or thirteen if you're a slow reader.) Below is a listing of Web resources to help you continue your research on free marriage records and free divorce records.


Part II - For Additional Research

Following are online resources useful in verifying marriage or divorce in the USA. As far as I can determine this is a complete list, however if you know of any resources I haven't found, please email me at joseph@washresearch.com

Online Marriage & Divorce Resources

Where to Write for Vital Records

Foreign Consular Offices

Western States Marriage Search


Alaska Marriage Search
Alabama Marriage Search
- Baldwin County Marriages
- Mobile County Marriage Search (Bride)
- Mobile County Marriage Search (Groom)
- Montgomery County Marriage Search
- Shelby County Marriage Search (early)
- Shelby County Marriage Search (1970-current)
- Tuscaloosa County Marriage Search
Arizona Marriage Search
Arkansas Marriage Search
California Marriage Search
- Contra Costa County Marriage Records
- El Dorado County Marriage Search
- Fresno County Marriage Search
- Marin County Marriage Search
- Nevada County Marriage Records
- Placer County Marriage Search
-San Francisco County (limited info)
- Stanislaus County Marriage Records
- Trinity County Marriage Search {use "vital" for username)
- Yolo County Marriage Records
Canadian Marriage Search
- Victoria Marriage Search
Colorado Marriage Search [fee]
- Larimer County Marriage Search
- Saguache County Marriage Search
Connecticut Marriage Search
- Rocky Hill City Marriage Search {Hartford Co.)

- New Castle County
Florida Marriage Search I
Florida Marriage Search II [fee for details]
- Alachua County Early Marriage Search
- Alachua County Recent Marriage Search
- Bradford County Official Records
- Burlington Area Marriage Search
- De Soto County Marriage Records
- Escambia County Marriage Search
- Flagler County Marriage Records
- Gilchrist County Free Marriage Records
- Hernando County Marriage Search
- Lake County Marriage Search
- Leon County Marriage Search
- Manatee County Marriage Search
- Marion County Marriage Search
- Palm Beach County Marriage Search
- Pasco County Marriage Search
- Santa Rosa County Marriage Records
- Sarasota County Marriage Search
- Seminole County Marriage Records
- St. Lucie County Marriage Records
Georgia Marriage Search
- Camden & Charlton Counties Marriage Database

Idaho Marriage Search
- Valley County Marriage Search

Indiana Marriage Search
- Elkhart County Records
- Fulton County Marriage Search (Akron, IN)
- Marion County Civil Searches
- Montgomery County Marriage Search
- Orange County Marriage Search
- Vigo County Marriage Search
- Wayne County Marriage Search

- Van Buren County Marriage Search
Kansas Marriage Search
- Anderson County Free Marriage Records
- Coffey County Free Marriage Records
- Franklin County Free Marriage Records
- Johnson County Marriage Database
- Osage County Marriage Records
- Sedgwick County Marriage Records
Kentucky Vital Records
- Kenton County Marriage Records
- Kentucky Marriage Records, 1973-2000
Louisiana Marriage Search
- Caddo Parish (username "muser, password "caddo")
- Calcasieu Parish
- St. Tammany Parish Marriage Licenses
- Tangipahoa Parish [fee]

MaineMarriage Search
- Marriage Index
Maryland Marriage Search
Massachusetts Marriage Search
Michigan Marriage Search
- Barry County Marriage Search
- Clarveloix County Marriages [unofficial]
- Eaton County Marriages [only back to May, 2004]
- Emmet County Marriages
- Genesee County Marriage Search
- Grand Traverse County Marriage Search
- Kent County Marriage Records
- Saginaw County Marriage Search
Minnesota Marriage Search
Mississippi Marriage Search
- Adams County Marriage Licenses [fee]
- Harrison County Marriage Search
- Pike County Marriage Records
Missouri Marriage Search
- Boone County Marriage Search
- Jackson County Marriage Search
Nebraska Marriage Search
- Douglas County Marriage Search
- Lancaster County
Nevada Marriage Search
Nevada Marriage Search [fee for details]
- Carson City Marriage Records
- Clark County Marriage Search
New Hampshire Marriage Search
New Jersey Marriage Search
New York Marriage Search
- Ulster County Marriage Search
North Carolina Marriage Search
- Buncomb County Marriages
- Caldwell County
- Duplin County
- New Hanover County

North Dakota Marriage Search
- Cass County Marriage Search
Ohio Marriage Search
- Cuyahoga County Marriage Search
- Hamilton County Marriage Search
- Montgomery County Court Cases
- Scioto County Marriage Search
Pennsylvania Marriage Search
- Armstrong County Marriage Records [fee]
- Bedford County Marriages [fee]
- Blair County Marriages [fee]
- Butler County Marriages [fee]
- Cambria County Marriages [fee]
- Clarion County Marriages [fee]
- Columbia County Marriage Search
- Cumberland County Marriages [fee]
- Erie County Marriages [fee]
- Fayette County Marriages [fee]
- Huntingdon County Marriages
- Juniata County Marriages [fee]
- Lawrence County Marriage Search
- Mifflin County Marriages[fee]
- Montour County Marriages [fee]
- Pike County Marriages[fee]
- Potter County Marriages [fee]
- Monroe County Marriages [fee]
- Schuykill County Marriage Info
- Westmoreland County Marriage Search
Rhode Island
South Carolina Marriage Search
- Anderson County Marriage Search
- Charleston County Marriage Search
- Richland County Marriage Search
South Dakota Marriage Search
Tennessee Marriage Search
- Shelby County Public Records & Notices
Texas Marriage Search I [unofficial]
Texas Marriage Search II [unofficial]
Texas Marriage Search III [fee for details]
Texas Marriages [download]
- Colorado County
- Dallas County Marriage Search
- Eastland County
- Ector County Marriage Search
- Fort Bend County Marriage Search
- Harris County Marriage Search
- Jefferson County Marriage Search
- Randall County Marriages
- Refugio County Marriages
- Travis County Marriages
- Winkler County Marriages

Utah Marriages
- Wasatch County Marriages
- Weber County Marriage Search
Vermont Marriage Search
Virginia Marriage Search
- Fredericksburg Marriage Search
- Spotsylvania Marriage Search
Washington (State) Marriage Search
- Chelan County
- Clark County Marriage Search
- King County Marriage Search
- Pierce County
- Snohomish County
- Waukesha County Marriages


- Fairbanks (City) Divorce Records


Colorado Divorce Records
- Park County Divorce Records (1957 - 1974)
- Pitkin County Divorce Records (1931 - 1964)
- DeSoto County Divorce Records
- Hernando County Divorces
- Lake County Divorce Records
- Manatee County Divorce Records
- Orange County Divorce Records
- Osceola County Divorces
- Volusia County Divorces
- DeKalb County Court Records [fee]
- Kane County Court Records [fee]
- Kendall County Court Records [fee]
- Macon County Court Records
- Madison County Court Records [fee]
- Ogle County Court Records
- Sangamon County Divorces
- Will County Court Records [fee]
- Winnebago County Court Records [fee]
- Howard County Vital Records
KENTUCKY [1973-1993]
- Orleans Parish [genealogical]
- Hancock County Records
- Eaton County Divorces [back to May 2004]

- Harrison County Court Records
- Clark County Divorce Cases
- Hancock County
- Lawrence County Free Divorce Records
- Montgomery County Divorces
- Tuscarawas County Court Records
- Union County Court Records
- Colorado County Divorces [unofficial]
- Eastland County Divorces
- Refugio County
- La Crosse County Free Divorce Records

Related Web Search Guides
Other Web Search Guides you may find useful:
Criminal Records
Asset Search

Recommended Reading


III.Discussion Group


Have questions or thoughts to share regarding free marriage records or free divorce records? Visit our Web Search Guides Discussion Group.

To suggest a Guide topic or to contact Joseph Ryan, Editor, click here.       


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