Divorce Procedure: Granting Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute

Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute mark the final stage of the divorce procedure in England and Wales.  With the issue of Decree Nisi the Court accepts that the marriage is no longer viable.  Decree Absolute confirms this decision six weeks later.

Decree Nisi

Decree Nisi is an order of the Court confirming that the grounds for the divorce have been proved and that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. It does not, however, mean that the Petitioner and the Respondent are actually divorced, which comes only with DECREE ABSOLUTE (see below), so you could still not remarry at this point.

The Decree Nisi is actually read out by a Judge in Court as part of the divorce procedure, but there is no need to attend Court for that purpose and the Decree Nisi order will eventually just be sent through the post to your Solicitor and then sent on to you. There would usually only be personal attendance by either party if there was a dispute about costs. This is very rare and you would be told if it was relevant to you.

There is a six week period before the Petitioner can apply for Decree Absolute and in that six week period, anyone can apply to Court to say that there should not be a Decree Absolute for example, because there are other facts that the Court should know about.

Again, in practice, this is almost unheard of and the six weeks is just a period of waiting before applying for Decree Absolute.

Decree Nisi does have some affects though. After the Decree Nisi date, either party can ask the Court to make a decision with regard to the matrimonial property. Prior to the Decree Nisi date, the Court could only deal with maintenance issues, not a final settlement with regard to the house, pensions, etc. Usually, this is dealt with by a Consent Order, a written agreement that the parties have agreed to setting out the arrangements with regard to the finances.

If matters cannot be agreed then one of the parties would have to make an application to the Court.

Decree Absolute

The Decree Absolute is the last part of the divorce procedure. This ends the marriage – the parties are then divorced and can remarry. The Petitioner can apply for Decree Absolute six weeks and a day after the Decree Nisi date, but the Respondent cannot apply until three months after that six week period. Again, there is no need to attend Court unless there are any complications and you will receive the formal Decree Absolute from the Court in due course, usually via your Solicitor.

To make an appointment to discuss your circumstances, please contact us.

Next: Reasons for a Divorce


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