Can members of the public see divorce papers?

One of the many questions which goes through the minds of people embarking on divorce proceedings is to what extent divorce papers can be viewed by the public.

This can be of a particular concern to a spouse who is being “blamed” for the divorce either because of their unreasonable behaviour by the other spouse or because they have had an affair.

One key point to remember is the petition document is not accessible by the public. Only family practitioners such as solicitors or court staff processing the paperwork will see the petition and grounds for divorce. This point sometimes aids in dissuading people from using the petition as a way to hurt the reputation of their spouse.

The only document within the divorce proceedings which is accessible to the public is the final divorce decree known as the Decree Absolute. Anyone can log onto the Central Registry Office and for a fee request a copy of a birth, marriage, death certificate or a Decree Absolute.

The Absolute confirms the court details, names of both parties, the date and place they got married, the fact upon which the divorce application is based, the date of the Decree Nisi and the date of the Decree Absolute.

Importantly, it doesn’t give any further details for the breakdown of the marriage, the specific examples of behaviour/ adultery or any arrangements for children or finances.

We hope that this blog has provided some reassurance regarding the privacy of divorce papers but for further information or to discuss any other issues around divorce and separation, please contact us.

Amanda Erskine is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich.

Suffolk Divorce Solicitors – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email