Utah Department of Administrative Services

Division of Archives & Records Service

Divorce Records

Territorial Divorce Records, 1852-1895

In order to find territorial divorce records, researchers need to know an approximate date or time frame in which the divorce occurred as well as where the parties were residing at the time of the divorce. As very few of these records are name-indexed, researchers may find their research to be very time-consuming if they do not have this information.

The following information about how the courts worked in the territorial period may assist researchers in finding divorce cases. Between 1852 and 1887, two separate courts had concurrent jurisdiction over divorce proceedings, the county Probate Court (for each individual county) and the District Court (covering multiple counties). Between 1852 and June 1878 there were no residency requirements, so individuals seeking a divorce in Utah technically had the rights to file anywhere within the territory. Most Utahns filed locally-in their county probate court or in the area district court-for convenience, but there was certainly nothing requiring them to do so.

In 1878, the Utah Legislature instituted a residency requirement for divorces which became effective after June 1878. In short, this meant that persons filing for divorce had to file in the County Probate Court (through 1887 only) or the District Court with jurisdiction over their place of residence. In 1887, the Federal government removed the Probate Courts' jurisdiction over divorce cases, and so between 1887 and 1896 all divorces were filed in the District Court only.

District Courts in the territorial period had jurisdiction over several counties. The boundaries changed frequently, so a researcher wishing to see which district court had jurisdiction over a county for a specific period of time should consult the Historical Jurisdiction Chart.

Not all of the records documenting territorial divorce proceedings have survived and very few are name-indexed. A list of records series obtainable through the Utah State Archives follows arranged by geographic area. Those that are highlighted have series inventories with more complete descriptions of the records. Researchers may want to consult multiple series for the same agency when researching divorces: while case files series generally provide the largest amount of information regarding divorce proceedings, occasionally files do not survive when minute book entries do or vice-versa. Also different record types document different aspects of the case. The linked inventories will give the researcher more information about the documentation provided by each individual series.

District Courts

First District Court  
Southern Division criminal case files, 1875-1895. Series 1521
Minute books, 1851-1858, 1865-1873, 1890-1896. Series 10035
Northern division civil and criminal case files, 1878-1891. Series 1529
Plaintiff index, 1878-1890. Series 21018
Second District Court  
Minute books, 1852-1865, 1880-1890. Series 5319
Civil case indexes, 1878-1916. Series 21933
Third District Court  
Case files, 1852-1896. [case files prior to 1871 are not name-indexed] Series 9802
Case files index, 1871-1896. [a partial index to series 9802] Series 3243
Civil case minutes, 1874-1875. Series 1625
Territorial minute books, 1858-1896. Series 1649
Civil and criminal registers of actions, 1870-1871. Series 20011
Civil registers of actions, 1871-1896. Series 22610
Fourth District Court  
Cache County minute book, 1894-1895. Series 3588
Civil and criminal registers of actions, 1878-1896. Series 17825
Judgment record books, 1891-1895. Series 84165
Northern Division civil and criminal case files, 1878-1891. Series 1529
Minute books, 1878-1896. Series 5062

Probate Courts

Not including those counties that were not formed until after 1887 or those counties for which the Archives has no holdings.

Beaver County. Probate Court  
Probate case files, 1876-1894 Series 26592
Record books, 1870-1885. Series 14893
Box Elder County. Probate Court  
Divorce records, 1868-1887. Series 26104
Record books, 1856-1877. Series 82970
Cache County. Probate Court  
Civil case files, 1878-1884. | online index Series 23726
Probate record books, 1876-1906.* Series 767
Carson County. Probate Court  
Records, 1855-1862. Series 19802
Cedar County. Probate Court  
Minutes, 1859-1962 Series 17493
Davis County. Probate Court  
Divorce case files, 1875-1886. | online index Series 4700
Divorce registers of actions, 1877, 1880. | online index Series 4731
Divorce minute book, 1877. Series 23694
Minute books, 1854-1872. Series 25012
Garfield County. Probate Court  
Divorce case record book, 1883-1889. Series 20937
Iron County. Probate Court  
Minutes, 1852-1896. Series 17477
Juab County. Probate Court  
Minutes, 1852-1859. Series 13096
Millard County (Utah). Probate Court  
Minutes, 1854-1862. Series 26151
Salt Lake County. Probate Court  
Civil and criminal case files, 1852-1887. | online index Series 373
Civil and criminal case minute books, 1860-1887. Series 3939
Civil and criminal case docket books, 1852-1887. Series 3944
Sanpete County. Probate Court  
Divorces, 1873-1887. Series 14697
Minutes, 1852-1896. Series 17693
Record books, 1855 - 1896 Series 26609
Summit County (Utah). Probate Court  
Record books, 1882-1913. Series 27442
Tooele County. Probate Court  
Record books, 1859-1892. Series 1422
Minute books, 1859-1888. Series 14650
Utah County (Utah). Probate Court  
Divorce case files, 1863-1888. Series 20941
Washington County. Probate Court  
Civil and criminal record books, 1856-1886. Series 3168
Divorce case files, 1870- Series 26638
Weber County. Probate Court  
Civil and criminal case files, 1852-1887. | online index Series 1593
Civil and criminal registers of action, 1868-1887. | online index Series 83901

*Creating agency is actually 1st District Court: Cache County. The earliest volumes in this series were generated by the Probate Court and include records of divorce actions. See description of records for more information.

Divorce Records, 1896-present

Divorces must be filed in the county in which at least one of the parties reside at the time the complaint is filed.

Records of divorces filed since 1896 in many District Courts are still accessed directly through those district courts, though some have made arrangements to store records older than 50 years with the Archives. Check the State District Courts Guide for information on civil case records at the State Archives.

Beaver | Box Elder | Cache | Carbon | Daggett | Davis | Duchesne | Emery | Garfield | Grand | Iron | Juab | Kane | Millard | Morgan | Piute | Rich | Salt Lake | San Juan | Sanpete | Sevier | Summit | Tooele | Uintah | Utah | Wasatch | Washington | Wayne | Weber

Salt Lake County, 1896-1969

Researchers will need to know the names of the parties and the approximate date of divorce. These records are available onsite at the Research Center for the researcher's visit. For information as to the types of records available to the researcher for Third District Court: Salt Lake County divorce cases, the following series inventories may contain more details.

Third District Court: Salt Lake County  
Civil case indexes, 1896-1968. | View Online Series 6071
Civil case index, 1969. Series 14260
Civil case files, 1896-1969. Series 1622

Salt Lake County, 1970-present

For certified copies of divorce decrees and other pleadings, 1970 to present, researchers should contact the District Court where the case was filed. See the Utah Courts Directory.

Vital Records Divorce Certificates, 1978-present

For certified copies of marriage and divorce certificates statewide (short form only), 1978 to present, researchers may contact:

Bureau of Vital Records
Utah Department of Health
288 North 1460 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-2855
Tel. (801) 538-6105 (recorded message)
Webpage: https://health.utah.gov/vitalrecords/certificates/marriageanddivorce.htm