The search for divorce papers

All Woman

DEAR MRS MACAULAY,

I would like to know how I would find out if I am divorced and how to get a copy of the divorce papers. My ex-husband applied for the divorce in Jamaica since that is where we got married and where he lives. He won't send me a copy of the paperwork.

How do I find out for sure?

If your husband filed a petition for the dissolution of your marriage in Jamaica, the record and file of the proceedings would be in the Supreme Court Registry, in the Supreme Court building situated at King Street, Kingston. As you wish to ascertain whether your husband's purported divorce proceedings were in fact filed and completed, you will have to either go to the Supreme Court Registry in person, or have someone go there for you and apply for and pay the designated fee for a search to be done for the proceedings and, if found, to apply for and pay the prescribed fee for a certified copy of the decree absolute. If a personal attendance at the Registry is not possible for you to arrange, as it seems that you are abroad, you can retain a lawyer to do the applications for the search to be conducted and for a certified copy of the decree absolute to be prepared and pay the prescribed fees on your behalf and to collect and send it off to you. You will have to pay fees to the lawyer, if you decide to use that means.

Or you can write to the Registrar of the Supreme Court to assist you with your search and the issue to you of a certified copy of the decree absolute, if it had indeed been granted. You should ask what the total cost would be for these to be done and for the copy to be sent to you by the safest means. You must also ask her by what means you should send the fees to her. Then you must do so as quickly as possible.

I assume that you were served with a copy of your husband's divorce petition and other supporting documents. I hope you still have a copy of it because, if you do, you will make the search in the registry of the Supreme Court much easier because on it would be the “Claim Number” at the top left hand side of the first page. You must use or send this number and your husband's correct name and yours as they were entered on your marriage certificate, so that the search can be effected efficiently and within a reasonable length of time. You see, the claim number identifies your husband's file, the folio it is in, and the year it was filed. No other petitioner but he would have that number.

If you do not have a copy of the petition and supporting documents and therefore do not know the claim number, then the search you must apply to have done would take a longer time, as it will depend only on your names and the time/year(s) you believe he filed his divorce petition.

If the result of the search you apply for is that there is no record of any divorce proceedings of your husband in the records at the Registry, then you can be sure that your husband's petition was not filed and no proceedings followed thereon and no decrees nisi and absolute were pronounced. Then you will have to decide whether or not you will file your own petition for your marriage to be dissolved.

If the search finds your husband's divorce proceedings and he did not, in fact, apply for and obtain a decree absolute, you can retain legal services to ascertain whether you can apply for the decree to be made absolute or not as you wish.

If the search is successful, then with a certified copy of the decree absolute you can prove that your status changed from a married woman to that of a divorced woman.

The search in the Supreme Court Registry is the only way that you can find out and be sure whether your husband did indeed petition for and obtained a decree absolute which terminated your marriage.

I hope I have clarified how you can ascertain the true fact of your marriage status.

All the best.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.

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