Cases for divorces from 1858 up to about 1937 can be accessed at TNA in series J77; indexed in J78. Click here for more information.
The success rate is quite high up to 1927, but for 1928 - 1937 only 80% of cases survived. If an approximate date of divorce is known, it takes about an hour to get to the box containing the actual case.
Gaby Laws has been in search of divorce records. This is what she has to say about searching for a divorce record:
The records of the Court for Divorce and Matrimonial cases 1858-1958 are held at the National Archives, Kew. These are indexed except for years 1946-1948.
1) Use the online catalogue and search for J78, within this are films marked J78/1 – J78/42, each is an index covering about 5years. By example J78/6 covers 1902-1907. Choose the one that covers the period you are looking for.
2) The Index is sorted by first letter of surname, then by each year. So you will see all surnames beginning with ‘A’ for each year covered by the selected film then all surnames beginning with ‘B’ and so on. Because of this searching through several years is simple and quick.
3) The indexes are handwritten, at least those I looked at. At the top of each page is the year and the entries have ‘Surname (first name) – V- Surname (first name)’. In the left hand margin there’s a reference number which you need to note.
4) Next go to J77 which is a file on the bookshelf. This is sorted by year, and then by sets of reference numbers (XXXXX – YYYYY), search for the block that includes the reference number of the divorce you are looking for and in the margin there’s a file number. Note the file number.
5) Now order document J77/(file number).
6) You will get a box of around 15 case files which should include the one you are looking for. The ones I looked at contained the marriage certificate of the couple, the petition and response etc.
Later divorces records are not available for public searching. However, a search can be requested at the Principal Divorce Registry. A ten year search costs £20.00. The only information you get is that the divorce was granted but no details about the case.
Principal Divorce Registry
Family Proceedings Department
DA Searches Section Room 2.03
First Avenue House
42 - 49 High Holborn
London WC1V 6NP
Find out about divorce records by going to the courts website divorces page.
The information and links on this page was supplied by Pauline-thank you!
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