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Finding your divorce file

We have records of some New Zealand divorces, but not all. This is because when a couple gets divorced, their file isn’t transferred to us straight away – the court that created it keeps it for some years.   

The quickest way to find your file depends on the year you were divorced. 

If you were divorced in 1981 or later 

Contact the Family Court that processed your divorce. The Family Court can: 

  • give you your file number 

  • tell you if your file is held by them, or by Archives New Zealand.  

Find contact details for all New Zealand Courts – justice.govt.nz

If you were divorced before 1981 

We may have your file. 

Check if we have your file

Start by searching for your name or the name of the person you divorced in Collections search. On the results page, look for items called “divorce file”.  

If you search for your name and can’t find your file

Not all our divorce files are listed by name. If you got divorced in the Wellington region, we may still have your file. 

We can check if we have your papers – you just need to give us your divorce file number. You can get the file number from the National Index of Divorces, which is kept at the High Court in Wellington.  

Find contact details for Wellington High Court – justice.govt.nz 

Get in touch with us when you have the file number. 

Ask an archivist if we have your divorce file 

What divorce files contain

Files contain the legal documents created in the divorce process, including the Decree Absolute – the document that proves a divorce is final. 

Divorce files may also contain detailed information about the marriage and people involved, like the: 

  • petitioner – the person who applied for a divorce 

  • respondent – the partner who received the divorce request 

  • co-respondent – a third person involved in a divorce, usually because they committed adultery with the respondent.  

This information may include the: 

  • full names, occupations, addresses and birthplaces of both partners  

  • date, place and area of the marriage 

  • name of the minister, registrar or celebrant who married the couple 

  • names of solicitors 

  • names of any children and their ages at the time of the petition 

  • reason for the divorce application and details of any relevant events or behaviour 

  • documents submitted in evidence, like personal letters, postcards or photographs. 

Accessing your file 

Some archives are “restricted access”, which means you need to get permission to view them. 

Divorce records are restricted from 100 years after the date the divorce was completed, to protect people’s privacy. To access a divorce file, you need to give us some details and documents. 

Decree Absolute and Decree Nisi 

We can give you a copy of your Decree Absolute or Decree Nisi.  

This costs NZD $25, and you’ll need to show us valid ID, like a passport or a New Zealand driver’s license. 

Entire divorce file 

To access your entire divorce file, you’ll need to show us: 

  • valid ID, like a passport or New Zealand driver’s license 

  • a letter from the court that processed your divorce, confirming that you have permission to view your file. 

Find contact details for all Family Courts – Courts of New Zealand

Once you’ve proved you have permission, you can access your file in two ways.  

  • View the original file in the reading room at the archive where it’s kept. 

  • Pay for your file to be digitised and sent to you. Your letter from the court will need to state that you have permission to do this.  

Find out how to get an item digitised

Marriage certificate

If you were married and divorced in New Zealand, you can prove you’re divorced by ordering a new copy of your marriage certificate. When a divorce is granted, the original marriage certificate is updated with a stamp that records when and where the marriage ended. 

Visit Births, Deaths and Marriages to order a copy of your marriage certificate

Where we keep divorce files

We have four archives around the country – in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.  

Each archive keeps the records of the region it’s in – so if you got divorced in Northland and your file has been transferred to us, it will be in our Auckland archive. 

Find out more about divorce records 

Our archivists can help you learn more about the divorce records we have.

Use the Ask an archivist form to send us a question

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