Tasmanian divorce records

The Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act came into effect in Tasmania on 4 October 1860. This legislation gave the Tasmanian Supreme Court power to rule on all matrimonial matters. State jurisdiction over marriage and divorce was slowly turned over to the Federal Government, with the passing of the Matrimonial Causes Act (1959) and Commonwealth Marriage Act (1961). During this time, divorces could have been presided by either the state or federal courts. From 1976 onwards marriage and divorce came under full federal jurisdiction, and Cases of Divorce were handled by the Commonwealth Family Law Court. 

Please be aware that Divorce records are restricted for 50 years. 

This guide will assist you by:

  • highlighting the main records available in the Tasmanian Archives;
  • explaining the processes around accessing closed divorce records;
  • providing an overview of the research services we provide;
  • detailing some useful contacts available from other organisations.

You might also like to consult our guide to Births, deaths and marriages.

Tasmanian Archives Divorce Records

The main series of records for Divorces in Tasmania is:

1861-1976     Documents in Cases in Divorce (SC89)   

These Documents are indexed up to 1950 in the Tasmanian Names Index. 

Divorces in the Tasmanian Names Index

The Tasmanian Names Index provides access to numerous records, including birth and death records, health and welfare records, and divorces. 

Our Names Index indexes divorces from 1861 to 1950. 

Divorces between 1861 and 1920 have been digitised. To find these, search the Names Index by entering the name of the individual; for instance 'John Smith'.

You can limit your search using the 'Limit Search results' criteria in the menu on the left-hand side, selecting 'Divorces'.

For further tips and information about the Names Index, we have a more detailed information page and a video.

Divorces from 1920 to 1950 appear in the Names Index but are not digitised.  For access, use item number listed in the Names Index - for instance SC89/1/94 - to order and view the item. 

Divorces from 1950 to 1976 are not indexed in the Names Index.  You will need to contact the Supreme Court for a Case File number, as they have retained the index. 

Please be aware that Divorce records are restricted for 50 years.  For access to Divorce Records less than 50 years old, please contact the Supreme Court.

Divorces from 1976 are handled by the Family Law Court of Australia.  You will need to contact them for information and access to Divorces from this period.

Other Items of Interest

1861-1943            Minutes of Proceedings in Divorce (SC38)

1967-1976            Burnie District Registry - Documents in Cases in Divorce   (SC517) (Restricted D50)

1945-1976            Launceston District Registry - Document in Cases in Divorce (SC550) (Restricted D50)


Divorce court proceedings were often announced in the major Tasmanian newspapers.  Trove provides access to a majority of these newspapers, and is searchable.

How we can help you

There are many ways that Libraries Tasmania can help you find information about Divorces.

If you live in Hobart, feel free to visit us in the Reading Room and History Room on the second floor of the State Library of Tasmania (91 Murray Street, Hobart) where staff can assist you to locate a range of archival items and histories, and provide general Family History research support.

If you would like to call and speak to someone on the telephone, you can reach us on 616 55538 or 616 55541 between 9.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday. 

You can also ask advice online through our chat service where you will find a librarian or archivist to assist you.  It is available between 9.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday. 

If your questions requires a little bit more research or some more challenging questions, then you can fill out an on-line form with your questions.

Key Readings

Henry Finlay, To have but not to hold: a history of attitudes to marriage and divorce in Australia 1858–1975 (Annandale, N.S.W. : Federation Press, 2005.)

Henry Finlay, 'Marriage and Divorce' in The Companion to Tasmanian History edited by Alison Alexander (Hobart: Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, University of Tasmania, 2005), pp.228-9.

Penny Russell (ed), For richer, for poorer: early colonial marriages (Carlton, Vic. : Melbourne University Press, 1994.)

Useful Contacts

Supreme Court of Tasmania

Phone: 1300 664 608

Email: supremecourt@supremecourt.tas.gov.au

Family Court of Australia

Phone: 1300 352 000

Email: enquiries@familylawcourts.gov.au

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