Divorce Process Part 3: Obtaining the Decree Nisi of Divorce

This is the Third part in a Four part review of the divorce process entitled ‘Obtaining the Decree Nisi of Divorce.

Once the Divorce Petition has been acknowledged by the Respondent, the court will then start the process toward pronouncing the decree nisi of divorce. The importance of the decree nisi is twofold.

First it is the initial decree of your divorce. No divorce can be finalised before a decree nisi is pronounced first.

Secondly, no financial settlement or Orders relating to the finances of the divorce can be made by the court until the decree Nisi has first been pronounced. A decree Nisi also indicates that you are well on the way to being divorced.

Overview & Procedure

When the Respondent returns the Acknowledgement of Service form to the court, the court will forward a copy of this to the Petitioner.

The Petitioner must then draft and swear a statement in support of the petition for divorce and they must also exhibit a copy of the acknowledgement of service form to their affidavit confirming that the signature of the Respondent appearing on the acknowledgement of service form is accurate and also confirming that the facts set out in the divorce petition have not changed materially.

The Petitioners statement will be filed at the court where it will be reviewed by a District Judge. The judge will then decide whether the statement is acceptable and if so, will set the matter down in the Special Procedure List, for the pronouncement of the decree Nisi of divorce.

The date of that pronouncement will be advised to both the respondent and the petitioner. It is called the Special Procedure List because as a general rule there is no need for either of the parties to attend the court for that hearing.

In the absence of any representations by either party at the Special Procedure List hearing, the court will simply pronounce the decree Nisi of divorce and copies will be sent to the parties.

However; where the Respondent objects to paying the costs of the divorce or wishes to make some other representations, then attendance at the Special Procedure List hearing is essential by them.

The Decree Nisi is the first Order made by the courts in relation to the divorce petition. It is a significant stage in the divorce and once it is pronounced then six weeks after the date of it’s pronouncement, the Petitioner can apply to the court for the Decree Absolute of Divorce.

The Decree Absolute of Divorvce is the final Order of divorce and once obtained the marriage has been dissolved and the marriage is at an end.

Also , the Decree Nisi is important because it is only after the pronouncement of the decree nisi that the Court can make any final orders concerning the financial aspects of the divorce.

This applies even if the parties to the marriage have agreed the financial aspects of the divorce by way of a Consent Order. It is therefore important that the decree Nisi is obtained first.

Once the decree Nisi is obtained, the speed at which the divorce progresses to a Decree Absolute is very much in the hands of the Petitioner. This is because the Petitioner can apply, six weeks after the pronouncement of the decree Nisi, for a final decree of divorce, being the Decree Absolute.

However; the Respondent cannot apply for this until 18 weeks after the date the decree Nisi is pronounced.

This is one of the reasons why it is sometimes beneficial to be the Petitioner in divorce proceedings, because the Petitioner often has the lead when it comes to deciding the speed at which matters will proceed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a Decree Nisi mean – does it mean I am divorced?

Not quite yet. The Decree Nisi signifies that the court has accepted the grounds for divorce as well as the Respondents acknowledgement and the divorce can progress toward a final Order.

You are divorced only when you receive the Decree Absolute of divorce. Before this, you cannot legally re-marry and there can be other consequences too, including your rights and entitlements in the event that your spouse or you die before the decree absolute of divorce.

The court has pronounced my Decree Nisi – what do I do next?

Before progressing the matter on to a final decree of divorce, this is an important stage to consider whether there are any issues in relation to the finances of the divorce that need to be resolved.

If the financial aspects of the divorce are still unresolved then any application to the court in this regard needs to be filed now.

Delay beyond this stage in addressing the financial aspects of the divorce can mean that one or both of the parties may well lose out on their entitlements.

The financial aspects of the divorce are called Ancillary Relief proceedings.

Should you have any queries about your own personal circumstances Contact us for guidance and advice relating to your particular circumstances on 020 8401 7352.

The information provided in this article is general information only and it is not intended that you should rely on this information as advice relating to your specific circumstances.

Divorce is a potentially complex legal process and you should always ensure that you receive independent legal advice specific to your particular circumstances from a qualified and experienced solicitor.

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