Are divorces public documents? – Observer from Jamaica


Dear Mrs. Macaulay,

I was wondering if you could help me. I was under the impression that the divorce records were public records, but I am unable to find a record of my husband’s divorce online through the registry.

He produced documents which were sent to Canada from Jamaica but I doubt their authenticity for many reasons and would like to know for sure if he is in fact divorced from his first wife or if the papers were tampered with .

I am not surprised that you were unable to obtain your husband’s divorce records online from the Supreme Court of Justice of Jamaica. These are not processes for public consumption. I’m sure you can understand why this is the case. If this was your petition for divorce and it was being dealt with by a Supreme Court judge, and you would have, as required by law and rule, stated as concisely as possible the facts of your marriage and the respondent’s conduct that caused your marriage to break down, these would be private matters that you wouldn’t want Tom, Dick or Harry or Mary, Jane or Joan to just log on and get copies of.

There are no public reports of divorce cases due to the issue of confidentiality of family and marital matters.

How then can you get information or copies of your husband’s divorce proceedings from the Supreme Court Registry? Well, you have to decide how serious your doubts are about the authenticity of the documents he showed you, which were allegedly sent to him in Canada from Jamaica. If you really have serious doubts about them, you will first need to get a lawyer to go to the Supreme Court office and search and request copies of the documents, if found, and send them to you. You should send copies or a copy of the document that would have been sent to your husband in Canada, which would include the number and full names of the parties to the proceedings.

As I said, if documents are found in the court records and copies are obtained and sent to you, then you can compare those of the lawyer with those produced by your husband and determine if they are the same. If they are, then your mind will be at peace, even if you haven’t explained why you have doubts. If not, you will need to make decisions about what action to take and you may be able to get advice from the lawyer you have retained on what you can or should do about it, which would involve questions of nullity of marriage, and whether your consent to marry was obtained by fraud, bigamy, deceit, forgery or the like, which I need not go into because you did not allude to any of these elements in your request.

I believe I have offered you a viable suggestion, but if you do not wish to use the services of an attorney, then if you are traveling to Jamaica you can go to the Supreme Court Registry yourself and do a search and get copies if any documents are found in his name that match the claim number on the document he produced and showed you.

However, I am of the opinion that the most direct and least inconvenient way is for a lawyer to be retained to act for you and obtain the copies which you can, after receipt, compare yourself and ensure their authenticity or of their falsity and then act accordingly.

I wish you all the best and peace of mind.

Margarette May Macaulay is a lawyer, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and advocate for women’s and children’s rights. Email your questions to [email protected]; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Ms. Macaulay cannot provide personal answers.


The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.


Comments are closed.