While the idea of the divorce is certainly not a new concept, divorce records in the UK did not begin to be officially recorded until 1858. In order for person to obtain these documents, they will first need to request a search from the CIDA, or Central Index of Decrees Absolute. Doing this will require a person to download a form from the Courts Service website and post it to the Principal Registry of the Family Division. Official records previous to 1858 are not available but an individual may be able to find secular documents by doing a search of the British Library.
There is a case file created for each divorce case regardless of the ruling. In this file you will find the original petition for divorce and response as well as copies of any other relevant certificates like marriage certificates or birth certificates. In some cases the case file may additionally hold copies of decrees and even evidence.
While the majority of case files are likely to be lacking the majority of the less formal documents, there are still examples available of what are known as ‘full files’. An individual looking for divorce records in the UK should understand that very few of the actual case files managed to survive after 1937.
In modern proceedings, 20 years after a divorce has taken place the case files are destroyed. Within that 20-year time limit, someone can apply to the appropriate court to get permission to view the divorce file.
It should be readily apparent to anyone doing a search for divorce records in the UK that older records are much harder to find than those created within the last 20 to 30 years. The catalogue makes it easier for people to do a search if they are looking for a particular type of divorce petition.
Divorce records in the UK will use abbreviations that will show if the divorce petition was performed on the husband’s behalf or on the wife’s. There will also be abbreviations in the records that show if there was an actual divorce, a nullity, a judicial separation, or restitution of conjugal rights.
Before an individual goes through the effort necessary to find divorce records in the UK, they may first want to try an online search to see if there is any information available on the Internet. There are several online sites that can provide a person with quite a bit of information that can at least aid them in their search, if not answer their questions altogether.