Union County Domestic Relations Case File Index, 1820-1977
(6,783 records)
(Updated: April 22, 2015)

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Domestic Relations Case Files (1820-1977)

These records contain the original complaint in a divorce or dissolution court proceeding showing: plaintiff, defendant, grounds for divorce claimed, date and place of marriage, names and ages of children, and goods owned by both parties.  They also contain copies of separation agreements covering such matters as custody, medical expenses, support, education of minor children, insurance, visitation rights, division of real and personal property, settlement of debts, and order of court either dismissing the complaint or granting the divorce.  They may also contain cross-complaint of defendant; motions to dismiss, alter or change child custody, alimony, support, or visitation with supporting briefs or memoranda; and orders of the court.

These records originate from the common pleas court and are maintained by the clerk of courts.  The court of common pleas dates to the Northwest Territorial Act of 1788 which established the court, and empowered the governor to appoint judges with jurisdiction in civil matters – i.e. divorce.  The Ohio Constitution of 1802 provided for the creation of a court of common pleas in each county.  A legislative act in 1803 provided the court with original jurisdiction in all cases.  The Ohio Supreme Court from this date until 1851 also possessed both original and appellate jurisdiction in divorce cases, so some divorce cases may be found in Ohio Supreme Court records.  Divorce cases from that time period until 1913 were numbered and filed jointly with civil case files.

Statutory enactments, increasing case loads, and a changing society have led to the creation of a number of courts and departments of special jurisdiction under the court of common pleas umbrella.  In 1913, a domestic relations court was introduced to specifically hear cases of divorce, alimony, illegitimacy, neglect and abuse of children, along with nonsupport and desertion cases.  In Union County the common pleas court judge still serves as judge in all civil, criminal and domestic relation cases, but domestic relation case files, while still being numbered and filed jointly with civil case files, were given a different colored filing envelope – blue vs. tan – for storage purposes.  In 1978, all domestic relation case files began being filed and docketed separately from civil filings.