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How to Find a Divorce Record in Illinois

A divorce, or dissolution of marriage, happens when two parties who are currently married make the decision to end their marriage. A divorce is legally registered in three different ways, and understanding the difference is a critical step in understanding what divorce records are, and the methods for which they can be of use.

Divorce records are considered court records. They may therefore be searched on third party public record websites. Divorce records can offer personal information on minors, finances, and sensitive criminal information like domestic abuse. Because of this, divorce record, certificate, and decree availability is usually much lower than other types of public records because of the personal nature of divorces. Simply put, divorce records are significantly harder to obtain and search for than other types of public records.

  • What are Illinois Divorce Certificates?

    A divorce certificate is the most regularly requested document of the three available but includes the least amount of details. This certificate contains a simple statement that the two parties have gone through a divorce and are no longer married, along with the time and the date that the divorce case was concluded. Most often, this record is requested when one of the parties wants to request a new marriage certificate or change their name as it appears on their drivers’ license. There are a number of different instances where a divorce certificate will be needed in the state of Illinois. This document is accessible for the two people involved in the divorce, and for the attorneys and judge who were involved in the case. Illinois does not allow others to access this file, although under certain circumstances it may be granted.

  • What are Illinois Divorce Decrees?

    A divorce decree is not to be confused with a divorce certificate. Divorce decrees include all information provided within a divorce certificate, plus details concerning the judgements and agreements that took place during the divorce hearing. These judgements typically encompass:

    • The splitting up of property and possessions
    • Spousal support and child support
    • Child custody rights and visitation
    • Ownership of life and health insurance
    • Name changes if desired
    • How the parties decide to divide their debt, if any exists.

    A divorce decree includes a judge’s signature and is always given a case number. The parties involved will need to first obtain this record if they wish to make changes to it. This document is accessible for the parties who have been divorced, for the attorneys involved (if applicable), and for the judge who was involved in the case. Illinois does not allow others to access divorce decrees, although under special circumstances they may.

  • What are Illinois Divorce Records?

    Out of the three types of documents, Divorce Records hold the most information. This document contains everything mentioned previously, as well as every file and document that was created as a result of the divorce trial. A divorce record serves as the case file for a divorce. Most courts suggest holding onto this file in case a change occurs or judgements are made in the finalization of the divorce.

    Illinois divorce records are maintained by the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Division of Vital Records as well as by the circuit clerk in the county courthouse where the divorce was finalized. The Division of Vital Records carries marriage and divorce Indexes from January 1962 to present day. The facts of a dissolution of marriage certificate include: names, dates of birth, date of event and the city or county of event. Interested parties who wish to access an Illinois divorce record must produce the necessary information. The law in Illinois does not allow the Illinois Department of Public Health Division to distribute divorce records, which may not be the case in other states. The Office of Vital Statistics can issue what they call a “divorce verification”, which is technically a divorce certificate, but a certified copy will have to be obtained through the county clerk’s office in the same county where the divorce happened.

How to Obtain an Illinois Divorce Record

To search for an Illinois divorce record, identification and the date of the divorce will be needed. Illinois divorce records are accessible by members of the public, although only those involved in the divorce are able to certified copies. It is possible to access non-certified copies of divorce records through the use of public record and third party websites. Divorce certificate verification costs $5 and can be delivered via mail, by fax, or can be acquired in-person.

The following must be submitted to obtain a dissolution of marriage verification.

Government public record search portals and third party public record websites both may provide court records search tools, which can help find divorce records, though record availability usually varies widely. Divorce records in particular may simply not be available through either source.

To Order Illinois Divorce Records by Mail

Mail a completely filled-out application for a divorce record file in PDF format or send a letter providing the names of each party, their dates of birth and the date and location of the divorce, and a check or money order for $5 fee made payable to the "Illinois Department of Public Health" to:

Illinois Department of Public Health
Division of Vital Records
925 E. Ridgely Ave.
Springfield, IL 62702-2737

Cash submissions will not be honored. Requests made by mail are most often processed in 4 to 6 weeks.

To Order Illinois Divorce Records by Fax

Orders for divorce records can also be faxed to (217) 523-2648. An application will be needed for verification of dissolution of marriage/civil union record files in PDF format or as a letter. The names of involved parties and the date and place of the divorce should be placed on the cover sheet. The following details will also have to be included.

  • Credit card information including the number and expiration date should be included for the payment of the $5 verification fee, a handling charge valued at $19.50, or the $3 fee required for each additional record
  • A phone number, including area code
  • A home address
  • A written signature
  • A valid government issued photo identification ID

People ordering records should expect a seven day turnaround time. Orders and applications that are not fully completed or illegible will be denied.

To Order Illinois Divorce Records in Person

In-person orders can be delivered by mail within three business days at the Division of Vital Records office at 925 East Ridgely Ave., Springfield, Mon-Fri, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., not including government holidays. A valid form of photo-ID will be required for any transactions or exchanges while in-person.

To Order Illinois Divorce Records Online

To order divorce records online. Interested parties will need to submit;

  • Credit card information including the number and expiration date should be included for the payment of the $5 verification fee, a handling charge valued at $19.50, or the $3 fee required for each additional record
  • A phone number, including area code, in case contact is needed
  • A home address
  • A written signature
  • A valid government issued photo identification ID

Requesting parties can expect the record to be sent within 2-5 days.

Does Illinois Recognize Common-Law Marriages?

Illinois accepts common law marriages that are recognized in other states. For example, if a couple moves from a state that recognizes common-law marriages, the existing union is recognized as valid. The union must be made before the move as common-law marriage created within the state of Illinois is not permitted. To get officially married in the state, intending parties will need a valid marriage license, an officiating priest, and the presence of eyewitnesses. Second, the partners must be of legal marriageable age (18+), indicating that they have the legal competence to marry. Finally, couples must have lived together for a long period and presented themselves to the community as husband and wife after agreeing to be in a long-term partnership.

Only a few jurisdictions in the United States accept common law marriage, the states are:

  • Colorado
  • District of Columbia
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only)
  • Oklahoma (courts are in dispute over recognition)
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Utah