Following the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 and “no-fault divorce”, the legal terminology was amended to make the process easier for clients to follow. This blog will focus on the changes to the terminology used within divorce proceedings issued after 06 April 2022.
What does a Final Divorce Order mean?
Upon the divorce application being issued by the court, there are two main orders which will be made during the divorce proceedings:
- The Conditional Order (previously referred to as Decree Nisi)
- The Final Divorce Order (previously referred to as Decree Absolute)
The Conditional Order is made by the court to confirm that they see no reason why the marriage cannot be dissolved. The Conditional Order does not officially end the marriage and until the Final Divorce Order has been made by the court, you will remain legally married to your spouse.
Once the Final Divorce Order has been made by the court, the marriage will be dissolved and you and your spouse will legally be divorced.
How can I apply for a final order and can I delay applying for the final divorce order?
Following the Conditional Order being made by the Court, you are required to wait 6 weeks and 1 day before applying for the Final Divorce Order. Upon the expiration of this term, you can make an application for the Final Divorce Order to be made which will legally end the marriage.
However, in the majority of cases, parties going through divorce proceedings will usually try to negotiate, either through solicitors or by attending mediation which is an agreement about financial arrangements. In these circumstances, it may be sensible to refrain from applying for the Final Divorce Order and this will depend on your specific financial circumstances. Once you are legally divorced, if your spouse were to predecease you before the financial arrangements had been agreed and recorded within a court order, you could lose benefits that you would otherwise have been entitled to if you remained legally married.
In addition, if your spouse is the respondent to the divorce proceedings, they can make an application to the court requesting that the final divorce order be delayed until the financial arrangements have been agreed between you.
Are there any distinctions between a Final Divorce Order and a Decree Absolute?
There are no distinctions between the Final Divorce Order and Decree Absolute. Both orders legally bring an end to the marriage. If you commenced divorce proceedings before April 2022, you will receive a Decree Absolute. Whereas, if you commenced divorce proceedings after April 2022, you will receive a Final Divorce Order.
It is important that you retain the Final Divorce Order received from the court as this will replace your marriage certificate and you will be required to produce it to confirm the marriage has legally ended.
In addition, you should also review your Will once the divorce has been finalised to ensure this takes into account your updated financial position and to ensure your estate passes to your intended beneficiaries.
Should you require any advice concerning the divorce process and resolving financial matters between you and your spouse, please do not hesitate to contact us and our family solicitors will be happy to help.