How Do I Find Divorce Records?

In the early days of Tennessee, divorce requests had to be approved by the Tennessee General Assembly.  The Index to Names in the Acts of Tennessee 1796-1850 will allow you to search if there is a listing for a particular individual.  The Tennessee State Library and Archives can, for a fee, copy up to three chapters from the published Acts of Tennessee.  If an act is located, we an also check to see if a legislative petition is on file for the divorce.

Court minutes are another location to search for records concerning the granting of a divorce.  We recommend that you read the document Courts Where Tennessee Court Cases Were Tried to find the types of cases heard by the courts.  The Genealogical County Fact Sheets and  Inventories of Local Records on Microfilm will give the dates of the court minutes in our collection for the counties of Tennessee.  You must provide the name of the husband & wife, the year of the divorce (or a five year range to search), specify one county, and specify one court to be searched.      If the divorce took place after 1834, and involved a dispute over the division of property, then it would have been heard in the Chancery Court;   if the divorce did not involve a dispute over the division of property, then it would have been heard in the Circuit Court.  (See the section on ordering a search of the court minutes for additional information.)

The Library and Archives has a state-wide divorce index for July 1, 1945 - 1970.  To search for a divorce from this time period, you must  provide us with the name of the husband & wife, the date of the divorce or a five year range to search, and (if known) the county where the divorce was granted.

Please go to Ordering Divorce Records for instructions on ordering a search for a divorce record.

The records at the Tennessee State Library and Archives are open to the public. You are welcome to come in 8:00am - 4:30pm (Central Time) Tuesday through Saturday to search the records yourself & make your own copies for research. Please see the Library and Archives Visitors Page for information on directions, parking, and holiday hours.

Please note: Archival materials are available for retrieval between the hours of 8:00 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm. If you know you will need materials between 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, please call ahead to the Public Services section at 615-741-2764 or visit the Ask Us a Question! web page. We will do our best to accommodate your request.

State-wide divorce records for the years 1971 to the present are held by the Tennessee Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.