Former spouses, family members, genealogists and journalists may all at some point need access to divorce records. Obtaining divorce records in Chicago is usually a matter of contacting the correct courthouse and paying a fee. On the other hand, if you are unsure if a divorce took place in Chicago, the Illinois Division of Vital Records can conduct a divorce index search to find out.
In Illinois, divorce records are available through the clerk of court in the county where the divorce was granted. While the city of Chicago itself is located in Cook County, the Chicago suburbs extend throughout DuPage, Will and Lake counties as well. If you are unsure where the divorce took place, you should call the individual courthouses for assistance, or request a divorce verification from the Illinois Division of Vital Records.
The Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Records, offers a search service for divorces that took place after 1962. The service requires that you provide the names of both spouses, and, if possible, the place and date of the divorce. You can request a search by filling out the appropriate form and submitting it by mail, fax or in person. If you submit the request by mail, it may take from 4 to 6 weeks to process. A divorce verification only gives you the names of the spouses and when and where they got divorced. The verification is not a certified document and is not a replacement for a certified divorce decree.
If a divorce took place in the city of Chicago or anywhere else in Cook County, copies of the divorce decree are available through the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court's office. You can either visit the office in person or call the office to request your divorce decree. Fees for divorce decrees are assessed on a per-page basis, so a staff member will have to count the pages in your decree to let you know how much it will cost. If you want your decree certified, exemplified, or mailed to you, an additional charge is added.
Certification and Exemplification
If you need a divorce decree for legal or financial purposes, certification or exemplification may be required. A certified decree has a raised seal pressed by the clerk of court, while an exemplified decree includes a letter from a government official attesting to the accuracy of the copy it accompanies. There is an additional charge for requesting a certified or exemplified divorce decree in Chicago.
If you want to examine your divorce files, you can do so at the Clerk of Circuit Court's office. The office keeps divorce files on site for five years after the divorce is filed. If your file is on site, you can stop by the office at any time to inspect it, though you may not remove it from the office. If your file is older, you will need to schedule an appointment to view your records.