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How to Search for Divorce Records in the UK

How to Search for Divorce Records in the UK

Divorce is a common occurrence in this society. The ease of getting a divorce has become common place. When looking for divorce records in the United Kingdom (UK), it poses more challenging. Divorce records can be found in a host of different places. Since divorces occur in Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales, your search can get a little more complicated if you do not have all the information required.

Sometimes a person may have to visit the court in person to ensure they find the correct divorce record. However, many online agencies, including the UK government itself, allows a person to log on and search divorce records. However, that person will need all the pertinent information before conducting a thorough search.


Location of the divorce is one of the more pieces of information you will need when narrowing down where to search for a divorce in the UK. This can be achieved by knowing where the person lived at the time of the divorce.


The name of the petitioner and respondent will also be an important piece of information when searching for divorce records. Having both names will prevent you from looking through divorce records of people who may have the same name.


Knowing the date of the divorce or even the year of the divorce and prevent you from search many of the divorce records that are maintained in the UK. You don’t want to spend valuable time reviewing several years of records to find the one you want.

All of this data will only help, whether you use an online service or go in person to the National Archives in England or Scotland. A lot of divorce records are kept in a database that can be accessed through the Internet, but getting a copy of a divorce decree can only be done in person. Whatever the reason you are searching for a divorce record in the UK, you have to spend some time gathering the correct information. Without any of this data, you will have a hard time discovering the information you are searching for. By asking questions or knowing everything you can about the divorce record you are searching, you will only make the search easier and retrieve the information you require.

Finding Divorce Records in the UK

Finding Divorce Records in the United Kingdom

Have you ever been curious as to where divorce records are located in the United Kingdom? There are a plethora of different reasons that would necessitate this type of information. An individual may need a copy of their own divorce records to validate their divorce. Whatever the reason may be, it is essential that one know’s where these records may be obtained.

A very important concept to consider when answering this question, is to understand that UK divorce records are not generally available online. Thus, repetitiously searching through websites will not lead to any fruitful results. However, they are public record, and thus can be viewed when visiting the specific locations that they are subsequently held. In doing this, it is essential that you know the names of the petitioner of the divorce and the respondent and the date at which the divorce was filed. The more information that you can procure about the record in which you wish to find, the easier the process will become. However, it is important that you request these files in person, an not through other means.

The location of the divorce record is contingent upon the country in which it was filed, as well as the the date in which it was filed. Divorces in England and Wales that occurred between 1858 and 1937 can be found in the National Archives of England. For divorces filed after 1937 they can be found at the General Register Office of England, as well as the National Archives of England previously mentioned, depending on the specifics of the record. in question.

All divorces that were filed in Scotland before 1984 can be found int the National Archives of Scotland. For divorces filed after 1984, they can be found at the General Registrar Office for Scotland.

Divorce records filed in Northern Ireland may be found held at either the Royal Courts of Justice in Belfast, or with the county court where the divorce was filed. Further research is necessitated in order to identify where the record in question is located.

While these are the primary locations for divorce records in the United Kingdom, there may be certain records, may not be found here or may require additional research in order to be obtained.

UK Divorce Records Online

UK Divorce Records Online

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.

Divorce Records in the UK- How to Find What You Want to Know

UK Divorce Records: A Few Search Tips

While divorce is a common occurrence in today’s world, divorce records in the UK were not required to be officially recorded until 1858. If you would like to obtain divorce records in the UK, you will need to request a search from the Central Index of Decrees Absolute, or the CIDA. In order to do this, you will be required to download a form from the Courts Service website and post it to the Principal Registry of the Family Division. Official records from prior to 1858 are not available, but you may be able to find secular documents by searching the British Library. Doing an online search may be easier and less time consuming that taking the above steps, so you might consider doing an online search for UK divorce records first.

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