8 July 2021

Difference between Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute

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If the respondent has not expressed an intention to contest the divorce application and the judge is convinced that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the judge will give a decree nisi, which is the first, conditional decision in divorce.

The decree nisi indicates that the marriage has irreversibly broken down and that it can be dissolved within six weeks of the order’s issuance unless a reason can be proven why the decree should not be rendered absolute. It is crucial to realise that a decree nisi will not grant you a divorce; you must apply to the court for a final decision.

The final decree of divorce is the decree absolute, and if you are the applicant, you can file for it six weeks and one day after the decree nisi is issued. If you are the respondent and the applicant has not applied for the decree absolute, you must wait six weeks plus three months after the decree nisi to apply for the decree absolute.

The court will ensure that no appeal has been filed against the decree nisi and that the appropriate period of time has passed after receiving the application for the conditional order to be declared absolute. If all of these requirements are met, the court will issue an absolute decree and provide a copy to both parties or their lawyers. Only after you have received the decree absolute is your marriage dissolved and you are actually divorced.

Before asking for a decree absolute, it is customary to wait until any financial concerns have been settled (for example, whether one party should pay the other’s maintenance or how the assets should be shared), but this is something you should consider with your counsel. As a result, the time between the decree nisi and the decree absolute is frequently lengthier in practice.

Civil partnerships follow the same procedure as marriages; however, the nomenclature is slightly different. A conditional order is the equivalent of a decree nisi in civil partnership dissolution procedures, while a final order is the equivalent of a decree absolute.


The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Connaught Law and authors accept no responsibility for loss that may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Connaught Law. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Connaught Law.

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A talented and dedicated public relations professional, Riaz, has more than 14 years of experience helping organisations communicate more effectively. He has developed strategic communications plans garnered extensive media coverage, produced marketing materials coordinated special events, and hosted other communications activities.

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