Mislaid marriage certificate

My sister is about to divorce her husband one of the reasons being because the house is full of paperwork,clutter etc which he will not remove (OCD issues) and living there is unbearable.Perhaps because of the chaotic state of the place, she cannot find their marriage certificate which is necessary for the petition to go ahead.

She has contacted GRO online several times and they claim that the certificate was not forwarded to them by the church after the wedding and therefore cannot be found to send on to the solicitor.She sent a photocopy to the solicitor from the church records but that is unacceptable.

What are her options because the petition has been held up weeks because of this impasse?Has anyone out there had a similar problem?

Many thanks.


  • pphillips
    pphillips Posts: 1,631 Forumite
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    Try contacting the local council and the vicar to try and find a way forward with this.
  • Grumpelstiltskin
    I would have thought a letter addressed to the bishop of the diocese ( assuming it was C of E ) explaining in detail what has happened and ask if on his authority a certificate could be sent to GRO.

    Or ask the local register office what the procedure is to get certificates from the church to the GRO ie. do they pass through the local register office or are they sent ether straight from the church or are they sent to the diocese who forward them on. This may sort out who possibly at fault as I would have thought this was a serious omission.

    Then it could just turn up filed somewhere for years.
    If you go down to the woods today you better not go alone.
  • TonyMMM
    TonyMMM Posts: 3,386 Forumite
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    edited 15 December 2018 at 5:19PM
    It sounds like the church forgot to send their quarterly copies to the local registration office (who forward them to GRO).

    I would speak to the registration office for the district that covers the church, to check if they did receive anything, but if they haven't then the church itself should issue a new certificate from their register (not just make a photocopy).
  • bouicca21
    bouicca21 Posts: 6,518 Forumite
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    Was the celebrant authorised to act in place of the registrar?

    If so, the registry office local to the church should have a record.
  • Flugelhorn
    Flugelhorn Posts: 5,690 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Happened to my mother 6 decades ago, she needed to have marriage certificate to get some maternity payment and couldn't find the original
    the local registry office hadn't received returns from the church so she went the church to get a copy, confusion reigned - they thought she had come to get the banns read - anyway copy was provided, signed by the clergyman ans the payment was made, I found it the other day, dated a few weeks before my birth
  • TBagpuss
    TBagpuss Posts: 11,205 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper
    yes, she will ned to get a duplicate from the church. She will probably ned to explain that she needs a duplicate not a photocopy.

    If she can't get that, then she will need evidence that she tried - e.g. a letter from the GRO confirming that they have not had the returns from the church, and a letter from the church, signed by the vicar and containing a 'statement of truth' confirming that they will not provide a duplicate and that the photocopy is a true copy of the entry in the register.

    On the divorce petition there is a box you can tick to say you are making the application to issue without a certificate, she will also need to make a separate application for a direction allowing her to issue without a certificate (and pay an extra fee).

    The purpose of the certificate is to prove you are married.

    She could also ask the GRO what happens is church doesn't send in the returns - can they chase this up direct with the church? I thought the church only sent the registers in once the book was full, so if the marriage was recent, or there are not many weddings at that church, it may still be the church, not the GRO, which has the register and needs to issue the duplicate. Churches are not used to doing this so on't always understand that a photocopy is not enough, so her first post of call should be to speak to the church to explain what she needs.
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
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