Are Divorce Records Public?


are divorce records public

On 6 April 2022, the ‘No Fault Divorce’ came into effect which changed Divorce Law so that the reasons for divorce are no longer cited other than that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.  If there are no longer details in writing of why a marriage has irretrievably broken down, then does it matter whether records are public or not?

You may however want to know what happens to Divorce records that were based on the old law prior to 6 April 2022, where reasons for divorce were cited. Many people are concerned that what went into a Divorce Petition may end up in the public domain.

When talking about Divorce you may be talking about your Divorce Final Order which refers to the formal end of your marriage, you may be talking about the Final Order in respect of your financial arrangements or you may be thinking of your Divorce Application, formerly the Divorce Petition.

In England the only part of a Divorce that does get saved as a public document is the Final  Order, formerly the Decree Absolute, which is the legal document formally ending your Divorce.

Will people be able to see the reasons for my Divorce?

The answer to this, of course refers to Divorce Applications made prior to 6 April 2022 as since the ‘No Fault Divorce’ came into effect, reasons for divorce are no longer cited.

Before the ‘No Fault Divorce’ came into effect there was only one ground for divorce and that is that your marriage has irretrievably broken down but there were five reasons for that ground as follows:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Separation of 2 years with consent
  • Separation of more than 5 years
  • Desertion

Many people are concerned, particularly if the reasons were adultery or unreasonable behaviour that this information could be made available to the public. Well, it cannot, and therefore the only people who will know (save for the Court and any other legal professionals entitled to this information) is you and your ex-spouse.

Where are Divorce Records kept?

The first and most obvious place is the Court in which your Divorce was dealt with. These records are kept for 100 years by the Court. Therefore, if you wish to remarry, this should allow sufficient time.

How do I obtain a copy of my Divorce Order (Decree Absolute or Final Order)?

You may find this link to the government website useful Get a copy of a decree absolute or final order – GOV.UK (

It is useful if you can recall which Court you were divorced in along with the case number, then you can write direct to the Court with a court fee of £11 to obtain a copy of your Decree Absolute or Final Order.

If you do not know your case number, you can write to the Court asking them to search their records, this has a fee of £45.

If you don’t recall the Court or the Court reference number, then you can write to the Central Family Court and fill in Form D440. There will be a Court fee of £65 for each 10- year period searched.

A search of the Central Index of Decrees Absolute can be made by anyone. All Courts send a copy of each Decree Absolute to the Central Index.

How can Andrew Isaacs Law help?

If you are considering getting divorced and feel much more at ease that such personal documents will not be placed in the public domain, then do not hesitate to contact us for a fixed fee appointment to obtain in-depth tailored advice with no obligation to instruct, to enable you to consider your options and make informed choices.

Call our team today on 01302 349 480.

Roxanne Woolliams – Family Solicitor




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