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As discussed in our guide to divorce records, divorces are a matter of public record even though the details of those divorces are not made available publically. That means it is possible to search for public records of divorce online or at a local public records office.
It does help to know the date the parties were divorced. However, in most cases the only critical information you will require is:
- The name of the petitioner (the person who started the divorce proceedings)
- The respondent of the divorce
- The county where the divorce was filed.
You may simply have to show identification in order to access the records pertaining to the divorce. If you cannot find the records online, you may have to contact the public records office where the divorce was filed and find out who the petitioner and respondent of the divorce was.
The process can differ depending where you are in the UK:
- England and Wales – Divorce cases that took place between 1858 and 1937 are in the National Historical Archive. Divorces that happened since 1937 are held in the county registrar’s office and the historical archives
- Scotland – contact the National Records of Scotland
- Northern Ireland – contact the Court where the divorce was granted. This could either be the County Court or the Royal Court of Justice in Belfast
Can I get a copy of my divorce?
Yes. The easiest way to obtain a copy of your divorce is to contact the solicitor who carried out your divorce. They should be able to provide you with a copy of your divorce file.
There are no specific rules for how long a solicitor has to hold your file. Such timescales are assessed on a firm-by-firm basis and will depend on the principles of that firm in relation to the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s Code of Conduct.
If it is not possible to obtain a copy of your divorce from your solicitor, it is relatively easy to obtain a copy of your Decree Absolute. The government website contains details of how to request a copy.
To obtain a copy of your Decree Absolute or final order you should contact the Court where the divorce, dissolution or annulment took place. There is an administration fee for this service.
If you can provide the case number, this will speed up the process. If not, you can provide the Court with the date you think the case happened. They will then search five years of records either side of that date.
If you do not know which court to ask, you can ask the Central Family Court to search for the Decree Absolute or final order at an additional cost.
Do you need help with your divorce?
Get in touch now with one of our panel of specialist local family solicitors.
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The information on this website is to be considered a guide and is therefore not legal advice. You use this information with the understanding that Wiselaw does not accept liability for any direct or indirect losses as a result of anyone relying on or acting upon the information on this website. Whilst we endeavour to provide accurate information, Wiselaw does not accept liability for any errors or omissions on this website.