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Decree Nisi – what is it and why is it significant?

What is decree nisi?

There are a number of stages in the divorce process and a decree nisi is one of those stages.

Decree nisi is often referred to as the first divorce order but it does not officially end the marriage. It confirms that the person seeking a divorce is entitled to bring the marriage to an end i.e. all the procedural and legal requirements to obtain a divorce have been met. This means that the petitioner has established one of the grounds for a divorce and that the marriage has broken down.

During the divorce process both the petitioner and the respondent will receive notification of a hearing date for the pronouncement of decree nisi. There is no need for either party to attend the hearing unless there is a dispute on divorce costs, the petitioner wants to withdraw the petition or there is a dispute on where the case should be heard i.e. a jurisdiction issue.

The significance of decree nisi

Decree nisi is not only an important stage in the divorce process but also of significance when dealing with a financial application on divorce.

Decree nisi must be in place prior to the making of a final financial order. Without decree nisi the court has no power to make a financial order. From a procedural point of view, the divorce process essentially runs alongside any financial application.

The misconceptions of a ‘quickie divorce’

It is not uncommon to read in the press about celebrity couples being granted what is termed a ‘quickie divorce’. But, what does that mean?

A ‘quickie divorce’ does not signify the end of ones marriage, despite the popular turn of phrase. Instead it typically symbolises that a divorcing couple are at the decree nisi stage and therefore still legally married. The petitioner cannot apply for decree absolute, the final divorce order that formally brings a marriage to an end, until 6 weeks and 1 day have passed since the decree nisi.

Key points to note:

  1.  Decree nisi does not bring the marriage to a formal end;
  2.  A ‘quickie divorce’ still means a divorcing couple are legally married;
  3.  Decree nisi must be in place before the making of a final financial order;
  4.  A marriage formally comes to an end on decree absolute.

Rayden Solicitors are a specialist family law firm with offices in St Albans, Berkhamsted and Beaconsfield. If you require any assistance please do not hesitate to contact one of our specialists on 01727 734260.

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