Many Chicago residents wonder how to conduct a free Cook County divorce records search.
In fact, finding divorce records in Illinois can be crucial for many legal situations, since it is an official documentation containing the details of divorce between two spouses.
Fortunately, anyone in Illinois, and Cook County, can see divorce records free using this search tool.
However, anyone who need to obtain official access to these records should first see Illinois divorce records maintained by the state’s Department of Public Health, and then follow the steps below to gain access to the official copies.
The following guide will explain how to conduct a free Cook County divorce records search and how to find the legal documents needed to prove it.
How to Conduct a Cook County Divorce Records Search
Illinois divorce records, just like marriage records, are available to members of the public in Illinois. The best way to get these records is to contact the circuit clerk in the county that issued the divorce.
The record custodian is only allowed to give out an informational copy of the divorce record (divorce certificate) which only verifies the dissolution of marriage.
Certified divorce records are restricted to the subjects of the divorce and their attorneys. However, anyone can obtain these records if they demonstrate a tangible and direct interest in the divorce record. To get this record, the interested party should visit the circuit clerk’s office or send a request via mail.
Chicago Vital Records
Every county in Chicago has a Vital Records department that maintains records of marriages, births, divorces, and deaths that occur in the city. The records are kept from 1953 to the present.
For instance, anyone who wants to access vital records in DuPage County can request the information online, in person, or by mail.
All counties in the state of Illinois retain records about marriages and divorces.
The Chicago vital records offices charge a small fee to process the order. Each vital records office provides records of events that occurred in that county. Additionally, specific individuals can only legally access birth and death records. The request should include an acceptable form of ID, without which the order will not be processed.
Divorce Records Chicago
There are several areas where an interested party can obtain divorce records in Chicago. They include:
Division of Vital Records: This division is under the Department of Public Health and has held marriage and divorce indexes since January 1962. The division will issue a dissolution of marriage certificate which will have the following:
- Names of the spouses
- Birth dates
- Location of the event
- Date of the event
County circuit clerk: the interested party can obtain an official divorce record in the courthouse that finalized the divorce. However, the courthouse does not issue divorce records to just anyone. The interested party must have legal authorization to do so or should have a close relationship (immediate family) with the parties in the divorce.
Office of Vital statistics: the main purpose of this office is to account for the population in the region. As such, they have records of key life events such as marriage, death, divorce, birth, and adoption. Interested parties can obtain a divorce verification which is similar to a divorce certificate, from this office.
Cook County Vital Records
The clerk’s office in Cook county is the official vital record keeper for major life events such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces that occur in Chicago and Cook county. Vital records that are available to the public include:
Birth certificates: If the interested party is of legal age, they may legally request a legal copy of their child’s birth certificate (their name must appear on the child’s certificate) or their own birth certificate.
Legal guardians appointed by the court can get birth certificates for the children in their care by submitting a certified copy of the appointment. The circuit court that provided the appointment can provide certified copies of the appointment. Requests accompanied by legal guardianship documents must be made either in person or by mail.
Alternatively, the interested party can also know how to find birth records free online.
Death Certificates: For people wondering, Is a death certificate public record? According to state law, a person may legally acquire a death certificate copy if they are a relative or can demonstrate a financial stake in the decedent’s death.
Copy of Divorce Decree Cook County and Free Cook County Divorce Search
The Division of Domestic Relations, in the office of the circuit court clerk, maintains records for legal separation, dissolution (divorce), and invalidity for both civil unions and marriages. This division also has records of Parental Responsibilities allocation and Visitation Non-Parent or Parenting Time.
Typical court case contents include case files, including the complaint of the plaintiff and the response of the defendant, as well as the certificate of evidence (testimony). The file will also have the final decree of the judge outlining settlement terms.
- Divorce proceedings may contain information regarding
- grounds for divorce
- Name and age of children of the parties
- Date of marriage
- Care provision for minor
The cases will not display social security numbers. These divorce court records are available to the two parties in the divorce, their attorneys, and authorized personnel only. The circuit court clerk will issue a divorce decree or certified copies of the divorce certificate to any of the three parties mentioned.
The interested party should also look into third-party websites that provide divorce records as some offer free services. They are more suitable for conducting free Cook county divorce searches. However, information from these sites may not always be reliable.
Cook County Vital Records Genealogy
For Cook county, vital records genealogy, and vital Records indexes before 1916 are accessible to genealogists, and they can request birth record copies of 75 years or more and Death records of 20 years or more.2
The largest city in Cook County, Chicago has its own subsection of the Cook County Clerk’s office and the services include genealogy requests as well as other official document requests.
The Genealogy Unit of the Bureau of Vital Records of the Cook County Clerk issues out non-certified copies of marriage, birth, and death records for genealogical research.7 This website has records for Cook County dating back to 1872.
Cook County Marriage Records Search
The office of the county clerk records and maintains records regarding domestic partnerships, civil unions, and marriages in Chicago and Cook County’s suburbs. Cook County Vital Records office provides eligible individuals with copies of these documents upon request.
After the marriage ceremony, the marriage license is submitted to the Bureau of Vital Records in the clerk’s office. The officiant who conducted the wedding completes, signs, and returns the marriage license to the clerk’s office for recording.
Upon request, the office of the clerk will thereafter issue a marriage certificate copy to the spouses whenever they request it. Members of the public can conduct a Cook county marriage records search at the Illinois National Center for Health Statistics NCHS.1
Cook County Public Records: Cook County Divorce Records
Most Cook county public records, such as vital records, court records, etc., are maintained and disseminated by the clerk of Cook County Circuit Court. The documents can be obtained by visiting the office, mail, or online databases.
The Cook County website allows residents to search for public records using the Circuit Court Public Records and Data platform.
The Illinois Department of Health also provides public records such as death and birth certificates.8 The copies can be obtained in person, by mail, or by fax. Public records, such as arrest records, can be obtained from local law enforcement agencies.
Cook County Clerk of Court
Cook County Clerk of Court administers Cook County suburban elections. Additionally, the Clerk’s Office supervises the city of Chicago and Cook county systems for marriage, death, and birth certificates.3 The Bureau of Vital Statistics division supplies copies of these documents to interested parties who are eligible upon request.
The Clerk’s Office also oversees the filing of campaign finance and economics disclosure reports for the whole county of Cook. In addition to real estate tax services, the Clerk’s Office manages the judgment books and warrant books for the entirety of Cook County.
Cook County Docket Search
The online case data is the electronic docket, which comprises summaries of court papers and court proceedings in a particular case. The electronic docket information accessible via this website is not the court’s official record. Cook county docket search has information pertaining to court cases such as court dates.
The formal court records are kept in paper files in the courthouse or other official Clerk’s repository. Any and all information contained in the online database is recorded as a concise summary of the paper documents, with the understanding that the data is accurate with regard to all features of the paper records physically filed with the clerk of the Circuit Court.
Are Divorce Records Public? Conducting a Free Cook County Divorce Records Search
Are divorce records public in the US? Some parts of divorce records are available to the public. Some states allow anyone curious enough to access copies of any divorce records without restrictions. However, most states limit this access because some divorce records contain sensitive and personal information. As a result, some divorce records are more accessible than others.
The most common types of divorce records are:
Divorce certificate: this document contains the most basic information about divorce, including:
- Date of divorce
- Address of the court that finalized the divorce
- Names of the two spouses
Any office that maintains vital records in the state, such as the state’s Department of Health, Vital Records Office, can issue a divorce certificate.
The Cook County Clerk’s office provides a number of public record look up services, including obtaining marriage licenses online, as well as birth and death records.
Divorce decree: this is a court order that finalizes the end of a marriage between two people. The information found in a divorce decree varies according to each state. Some decrees will only provide a few details about the spouses and will reference other documents, such as marital settlement agreements.
However, some divorce decrees provide extensive information about the divorce terms, which include but are not limited to the following:
- Division of debt and assets
- Spousal alimony or support
- Child custody and support
Divorce court records: this is an extensive term that refers to the court documents filed during the divorce case, together with recordings and transcripts of the divorce proceedings. A divorce court record is more detailed than a divorce decree or certificate. It contains detailed information about the spouses, their finances, the children involved, the reason for divorce, and details of their personal lives.
How To Get a Copy of Divorce Decree in All Illinois Counties
Since divorce decrees have sensitive information about the family’s children, finances, and other personal information, most states limit their access. For example, many states will restrict access to only the two parties involved in the divorce, their attorneys, or other parties with a legal interest in this information, such as an executor of an estate.
So how do you get a copy of divorce decree? The divorce decree is archived in the courthouse’s vital records office in the place where the divorce was obtained. The court clerk is responsible for mailing a copy of the final decree to the two divorcing parties. Any other member who wants a copy of the divorce decree should ask directly (either in writing or in person) from the county clerk’s office. The interested party will have to pay a small fee to obtain a certified copy.
Illinois Vital Records and Illinois Divorce Records
According to the Illinois Compiled Statutes (410 ILCS 535/24), the department in charge of Illinois vital records has to observe a statutory period of confidentiality, after which the documents will be available to the public.
The Illinois Department of Health does not issue certified copies of divorce records, but can verify that the divorce has taken place.
Additionally, the Vital Records Act allows public access to vital records.4 The Act also allows authorized persons to obtain certified copies of these records from the local government. The certified copies will include the following:
- Name of the persons on the record
- Immediate family members
- Legal representatives of the persons on the record
- Custodians of the record
Anyone who wants to get a certified copy of a vital record should obtain a signed court order. Maintaining and generating vital records in Illinois is assigned to the state’s Department of Public Health (IDPH).1
Each county has a local health department where interested parties can fill out and submit record forms. These forms should also include the applicable fees that account for the cost of searching and making copies of the records.
Requesters should provide the following if they wish to obtain vital records:
- Name of the subject
- Date of the life event
- Applicable service fees
- Other identifying information, such as photo IDs
Suppose a requester wants to get a vital record under the statutory period of confidentiality. In that case, they must also include a document that proves they are eligible to access the record.
Besides the department of public health, a few third-party aggregate sites also manage and provide vital records to the public. These third-party websites are the best place to conduct free Cook county divorce records search.
Besides providing free records search, these websites are not restricted geographically. These sites are best suited for anyone who wishes to search multiple or specific records. Even so, most of these sites are not sponsored by the government. Therefore the information found on the record and the availability of the record may be different from the official channels.
To obtain a record from these sites, the requester should provide the following:
- Name of the subject
- Location of the record, i.e., city, county, or state where the record was filed
What Does a Divorce Decree Look Like?
Each divorce case experiences different issues; therefore, divorce decrees vary from case to case. For instance, if the two parties decide on divorce mediation or reach an alternative resolution, the divorce decree will include the marital settlement agreement, which was settled out of court.
Finding divorce records in Cook county can be done using the Clerk of the Court’s website, which retains official copies of divorces.
What does a divorce decree look like? Each state has its own unique requirements for a divorce decree. For example, New York and California have fill-in-the-blank forms catered to individual cases. Moreover, some courts add provisions of the settlement agreement to the decree. In contrast, others prefer to attach the agreement as a separate document and reference it in the decree.
Most decrees include:
- Parties’ identifying information, including dates of birth, names, and addresses
- Identifying information about minor children (sometimes adult children if it’s pertinent to the case)
- The court’s address and telephone number
- Attorney information
- Case number
- The date the marriage officially ended (the date of the final decree)
- The judge’s name
- A statement with a new last name for the spouse (If one of the spouses requests it during divorce)
- A divorce finality declaration
The decree may also contain specific directives regarding the following:
- Distribution of debt and assets
- Parental visitation and custody
- Child support
- Alimony (maintenance or spousal support)
- Distribution of retirement savings
- Additional case-related matters
Once the judge approves the terms and circumstances of the divorce, the final dissolution of marriage in Illinois must be signed by both parties and any attorneys involved, along with the date of signature.5 The judge will then sign the decree, and in some courts, the court clerk will apply a stamp to the completed document, which will include the court’s official seal.
Illinois Vital Records Marriage Certificate
The Illinois government allows public members to obtain informational documents verifying a civil union or marriage. However, the state does not release certified marriage record copies to the public until 75 years have passed. During this period, the certified marriage records are only available to:
- The spouses
- Legal representatives
- Immediate family members
- People authorized by the court
Requesters who wish to obtain Illinois vital records marriage certificates should consult the office of the circuit clerk in the county that issued the marriage license. The requester can either visit the office or contact the record custodian via mail.
The requester should have the following information:
- Full names of the subjects in the civil union
- Date and place of marriage
- The record’s license number (if known)
To obtain the records via mail, the requester should fill out the application form and mail it to the record custodian with the fees and an acceptable form of identification, such as a photo ID issued by the government.6
Cook county divorce records and other vital records such as divorce records are managed and distributed by the office of the county clerk. Alternatively, a person can get some of these records from the state’s Department of Health. Even so, the best place to conduct a free Cook county divorce records search is through third-party aggregate sites.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cook County Divorce Records