Replacing your Decree Absolute

If you lost or misplaced your decree nisi or decree absolute after your divorce, you may find that you need it again in the future.

Fortunately, replacing these documents is usually quite easy, particularly if you remember your case number and the county court at which your decree was issued.

If you don’t remember these things, you should still be able to have your decrees replaced – however, it will be a bit more expensive.

What is a Decree Nisi/Decree Absolute?

The decree nisi and decree absolute are two separate documents which you must obtain at different times during divorce proceedings. When the person who initiated the divorce (the petitioner) has convinced a court that he or she is entitled to a divorce, the court will issue the decree nisi.

The decree absolute is the document which officially ends the marriage, and the petitioner cannot apply for it until 6 weeks and a day after the court issues the decree nisi. This period of time between the decree nisi and decree absolute is for any objections to the divorce to be made. It also gives both partners a chance to come to an agreement regarding finances before the marriage is ended.

If the decree nisi is issued and the petitioner does not apply for the decree absolute within four and a half months, the other partner (the respondent) can apply for the decree absolute.

Why might I need a copy of the Decree Absolute?

If you wish to remarry, you will need a copy of your decree absolute – a photocopy will not be enough.

Obtaining a Decree Absolute copy

If you remember which county court issued your decree absolute, you can contact that court directly in order to get your copy. You can find the contact details for your court in our Court Directory.

If you have the case number for your divorce, a copy of the decree absolute will only cost you £5 – however, without the case number, it will cost £40. It may be worth going through old documentation or asking your ex-partner in order to find the case number and avoid this extra cost.

What if I don’t remember which court to contact?

If you don’t know which court you need to get in touch with, you will need to ask the Principal Registry of the Family Division to search their records for your divorce. This will be more expensive still, costing you £60. You can contact the Principal Registry of the Family Division at the following address:

First Avenue House
42-49 High Holborn
London
WC1V 6NP

You can also call the registry at 020 7947 7017, or email them PRFD.decreeabsolutesearches@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk.

Again, you may be able to avoid this cost if you look through old documents for a record of which court issued the decree absolute. Failing this, it may be worth contacting courts near to where you and/or your partner were living at the time of the divorce. Our court directory can help you find the nearest courts to your location.