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Need your divorce documents so you can remarry? Are you sure you have the decree absolute?

So you have taken time off work to go to the local Register Office to give notice of marriage. There are a few documents that you must take with you. On the Bride Buddy website there is a whole section about giving notice of marriage and there is also a legal document checklist so you can make sure you have what you need before you go, but today I am going to talk about UK divorce certificates. As a former Registrar, I can tell you that the most common reasons for couples being turned away from their appointments to give notice is because they have brought the 'wrong' documents, 'copies' of documents, or 'missed out' some documents all together. Divorce documents seem to cause the most confusion so now I hope to make it clearer for you so you do not waste your time when you attend to give notice of marriage.

Can't find your decree absolute?

  • "I was divorced years ago - I'm sure I have it here somewhere!" Ah yes, but did you apply for it? You receive your decree nisi which has 'D36' written in the bottom right corner. This document is telling you that so long as there are no objections, your divorce will be 'made final and absolute' in six weeks and 1 day. You pop that date on the calendar and assume you will receive something through the post. You don't. To get a decree absolute document you have to apply to the court for it. If you do not apply for one, you will not have one no matter how hard you look for it!

  • "How do I apply for a decree absolute?" Firstly, you need to know the location of the court where the divorce proceedings took place and the divorce case number. You must apply to the court and it costs £10. If you are not sure of the case number it costs £45 for the court to do a search. If you are not sure which district court was used - you can apply to the central family court and it costs £65. If you don't know this information but you get along with your ex partner, it is probably worth asking them if they have the information you need as it will save you time and money!

  • "Will a photocopy do?" I expect you have already guessed the answer to this one. No, a photocopy will not be good enough. If you arrive for your notice of marriage appointment without original documents - you are most likely to be turned away.

  • "How do I tell the decree nisi and decree absolute apart?" Here is a little tip for you if you are not sure which document is which. You would be surprised at how many people turn up at the Register Office to give notice of marriage with the decree nisi instead of the absolute. The decree nisi has "D36" written in the bottom right corner and the decree absolute says "D37". So long as it says D37 and is not a photocopy - you are good to go!

  • "I have a foreign divorce" This is ok, but it will need to be approved first. This usually involves the Registrar taking a copy of your ORIGINAL divorce documents which have to be sent to the head office (General Register Office) for approval. You will need to provide a translation and the fee is higher and it will take longer so you need to bear this in mind when planning your wedding date. The Register Office where you make your appointment will guide you through the process.

Don't forget to check the Bride Buddy website for detailed information on giving notice of marriage and our legal document checklist to help you get all the documents you need appointment with the Registrar. Also check the link below for more help getting a replacement decree absolute.

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