Are Divorce Files Made Public in the UK?

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Just as with births and marriages, the registration of a divorce is a matter of public record. This means that the dissolution of your marriage will also be registered.

While the fact that your divorce has occurred may be public record, it’s rare that the details of your divorce will be available for public consumption. And while your divorce file can contain the petitions, certificates and copies of the Decree Nisi (now called the Conditional Order) and Decree Absolute (now called the Final Order), it’s only the Decree Absolute/Final Order that is public.

The content of the divorce application is not a matter of public record. For instance, any specifics regarding a spouse’s unreasonable behaviour (or perhaps adultery) documented within the divorce petition would not be made available publicly.

This means that the specific details of the divorce will only be known by:

  • You
  • Your spouse
  • The solicitors acting for both parties (if any)
  • The judge who decides whether the divorce should be granted.

In addition, your solicitors should advise you that both you and your spouse are required to keep all information provided within divorce proceedings completely confidential.

This means that both you and the other party should refrain from showing or providing copies of documents disclosed within divorce and financial proceedings to anyone. This includes close friends and family.  If there are any issues with their disclosure, you should discuss these with your legal representative.

Of course, there are some divorces that attract the attention of the media. This is often because:

  • the divorce involves a high profile person
  • the divorce case has a specific aspect which involves testing a principle of law, or a possible law change

However, even these types of case are bound by elements of confidentiality and the media will not normally be permitted formal access.

Even where the media are entitled to attend a court hearing, there will often be restrictions relating to how they report their findings, particularly where sensitive financial information is involved.

Do you need help with your divorce?

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If relevant, please include below the name of the other party (so the solicitor can check they have not already provided advice to your partner):

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