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Getting a divorce can be a long and painful process. If you are reading this article, you have probably already learnt about how to get a divorce and have managed to get it done.

The good news is that the hardest part is now over. However, you’ll soon learn that in order to start this new chapter in your life, you’ll need proof of your divorce. This means you will have to get a copy of your divorce decree, also known as decree absolute, to prove your new status or do some paperwork.

So if you are wondering what documents and steps you need to follow to get your copy, you have come to the right place. Here is what you need to know and do to request yours.

Getting a copy of a decree absolute online


The decree absolute is a legal document that proves you’ve ended your marriage. The original remains in the power of the family court that dealt with your case. However, you probably applied for a copy of it after you obtained your decree nisi as part of the divorce process.

The decree absolute will be asked from you in many situations. For example, if you want to remarry, cancel joint accounts, and change the name of the beneficiaries in your insurance policy, among others.

Who can apply?

Any of the two concerning parties can apply for a copy of the decree absolute. However, if you filed for the divorce but didn’t apply for a copy - and your husband or wife wants to get one - they’ll have to wait an extra 3 months after the standard 43 days to request it.


If you’re like most people, you’ve probably used a lawyer to help you get through the divorce process. When they told you it was all over, it was because he they already received this piece of paper from the family court. If your lawyer hasn’t sent you a copy, you should get in contact with them to request one.

If you haven’t used a lawyer, you have lost your decree absolute, or you simply need a replacement decree absolute, you can apply for new copy at the family court that handled your case.

What you will need to do to get a copy of your divorce certificate depends on whether you know the necessary information regarding your case. Let's take a look at the two possible scenarios.

Scenario A: You Hold the Necessary Information Regarding your Divorce Case

If you have the name of your court tribunal and case number, the process is quite straightforward. You’ll be able to find this information on the notice you received when you applied for the divorce. To request a copy of your decree absolute, you must send an email or letter to your family court containing the following information:

  • • Your name and address

  • • Your divorce case number

  • • The chosen payment method, which can be:

  • - debit or credit card. In this case you must include your phone number in your email or letter. The court will call you to take your payment.

  • - check or postal order. You must make the cheque or postal order payable to ‘HM Courts & Tribunals Service’ and send it to the court.

Scenario B: You Don't Know the Necessary Information Regarding your Divorce Case

If you have lost the information concerning your divorce, it’s still possible to obtain a copy of your divorce decree. You must fill in form D440 and send it to the address indicated on it. This is to ask the Central Family Court to search for your decree absolute or final order. You’ll be asked to provide an approximate date of when your divorce was filed.

what does a decree absolute look like

Can I get a Copy of my Divorce Decree Online?

Unfortunately, not everyone can get a copy of their decree absolute online. Only if you applied for a divorce online can you apply for a decree absolute online.

Validity, Cost, and average processing time

Fortunately, this document has no expiration date. The processing time and cost to obtain a divorce decree will depend on whether or not you’re aware of some information concerning your divorce, such as your case number and the name of the court that handled your divorce. When you hold the needed information, obtaining the copy will only cost £10 and you’ll get the copy within a week after the court gets your payment.

When you lack the necessary information the process can be more expensive and lengthy. Since the family court has to carry out a search to find the decree absolute in their records, it will be hard to know how long that can take. The cost will be higher too. You can expect to pay £65 for each 10 year period that’s searched. You can make the payment:

  • by cheque or postal order payable to ‘HM Courts & Tribunals Service’ and sent with your form.

  • by credit or debit card. You’ll need to include a letter with your form stating your phone number and requesting the court to call you to take your payment.

A way to prove your new marital status

We hope this article has helped you learn what you need to do to request a certified copy of your divorce papers. Once you get your decree absolute, you'll be able to get your paperwork sorted and move on. We wish you all the best with your new life!

[Divorce decree UK]