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What Is a Decree Nisi?

The average divorce rate in England and Wales is 33.3%, based on marriages between 1964 and 2019. However, data shows that divorces have been decreasing in recent years.

Yet, there’s nothing to be ashamed about if you’re getting divorced. Instead, learn about the process so you can swiftly move on and resume your life. The first step is learning about the decree nisi.

Follow this decree nisi guide to learn what you need to know.


Decree Nisi Explained

A decree nisi is the first court order you’ll face in a divorce case. It confirms that the court doesn’t notice any reason why you and your spouse cannot get a divorce. A decree nisi establishes grounds for divorce and states that the legal requirements to get a divorce have been met.

Previously, there were five grounds to prove the breakdown of a marriage. They were:

• Adultery
• Unreasonable behavior
• Desertion
• Two-year separation with consent
• Five-year separation


“Irreconcilable differences” was not a ground you could use for divorce. But now, there is a new law in the UK that allows couples to divorce on the grounds of “no fault.” You can learn all about this recent ruling here:

Under the new law, the name “decree nisi” will change to Conditional Divorce Order.

Once the court announces decree nisi, the petitioner can apply to the court for the decree absolute of divorce after six weeks and one day (43 days).

The decree absolute is the final order of divorce. When the court issues the decree absolute, the marriage is over.

Under the new law, the name “decree absolute” will change to Final Divorce Order.

Getting a Decree Nisi

The petitioner must apply for a decree nisi from the court. The petitioner can only apply for it once their spouse has responded to the divorce petition. The spouse must confirm they do not contest the divorce.

If your spouse doesn’t agree to the divorce, you need to first go to a court hearing.

Then, a judge will decide whether or not to grant the decree nisi. If the judge approves, the court will issue a certificate stating which day the judge will read the order aloud in court. You don’t need to attend court for the decree nisi pronouncement most of the time.

After you receive a decree nisi, you can begin to sort out your marital finances. Some couples need more than 43 days to settle their financial matters. Resolving financial issues before applying for a decree absolute ensures spousal rights to pensions and other benefits are protected.

If the petitioner doesn’t apply for the decree absolute, the respondent can apply three months after the expiry of the 43-day period.

If You Want a Divorce, Petition for a Decree Nisi

Obtaining a decree nisi is necessary to begin formal divorce proceedings. By understanding the decree nisi, you know how to take this first step to dissolve your marriage. Additionally, hiring a divorce attorney will help you with the proceedings.

If you found this article helpful, check out the rest of the blog for more content.

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