Marriage Applications as a Source for Divorce Dates
Divorce information may be found on subsequent marriage applications. Some of the questions involve proving that you are capable of being married.
- Are you of age?
- Are you an imbecile?
- Have you been married before?
- Did the marriage end in death or divorce and when?
Those questions were necessary for each party to the marriage. I was in the Denver Recorder’s Office to pull some deeds when a couple came in to fill out their marriage application. The man got out of line, pulled out his cell phone, called his ex-wife and asked when they were divorced. It was all I could do to keep a straight face as that took a certain amount of guts, brass, fortitude, whatever. I really wanted to laugh out loud. While generations of researchers will be glad he took the time to check the date for accuracy, I can’t imagine his ex-wife was interested in paving the way for his next marriage and I was astounded she didn’t hang up on him.
In some states marriage applications are made at the Clerk of Courts, in some in the Recorder’s Office, in some in the Register of Wills and Orphan’s Court and in others at the Local Vital Records Office. Just as the place is different in various states, so are the applications, the information required and the timing of that information. Some states’ forms required parents’ names ages ago, some required the ages of the participants in the 1800s, while other states just required you to state/swear you were old enough to get married. Some states required a birth certificate or driver’s license to prove your age, others took your word. The changes in the marriage application may be of as much importance as the date itself.