Divorce records

A guide to finding divorce records

The main official record of a divorce is the Decree Absolute, copies of which can be ordered online via the UK Government website.  The earliest of these records is dated 1858.

Up to 1937, case files are held by The National Archives, and can be searched online by the name of petitioner, respondent or co-respondent for divorce suits in England and Wales, both successful and unsuccessful.  The files up to 1918 can be searched and downloaded via Ancestry.

Records available at Derbyshire Record Office

Although the main records of divorce are held centrally, we do hold registers of summary jurisdiction for various Derbyshire Magistrates Courts which include references to the decrees absolute being granted after 1858.  The registers are arranged chronologically and tend not to be indexed but there aren’t too many divorce entries and they do tend to stand out from the other entries so it doesn’t necessarily have to be too time consuming to identify an entry if you don’t know the date.

Beware: as they contain personal information about individuals who may still be alive, the registers are generally closed to public inspection for 100 years.  We can supply information from the registers dated within the last 100 years to the data subject (i.e. the person to whom the information relates) or when proof is provided that the individual is no longer alive.  See our Data Subjects in Archives Privacy Notice for more information.

A list of the archive collections for Derbyshire magistrates courts can be seen via our online catalogue, including links to a full list of records for each court.

A very small number of deeds of separation and other divorce records are held in some of the family archive collections (including those that are part of solicitors collections) available at Derbyshire Record Office.

Further Reading

See The National Archives guide for more detailed information about records of divorce, including records before 1858.

2 thoughts on “Divorce records

  1. The plural of decree absolute is decrees absolute, not decree absolutes, but apart from that, this is a useful sheet.

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