Divorce - Decree Nisi / Absolute
Updated 21 June 2019
Words you may need to know
Petitioner: the person who is asking for divorce
Respondent: the person being divorced
Decree Nisi – this is the first stage of the divorce and it is not finalised until the second stage called the Decree Absoluteis granted some six weeks later
Treasury stamp – this is a special stamp you have to buy. You can get them from Morier House
Summons: this is a legal letter
How to get a decree nisi
When a divorce is granted in the Royal Court, the petitioner (The person asking for the divorce) will be granted a decree nisi. The decree nisi is a conditional divorce which does not become final until the decree absolute is granted some six weeks later.
How to get a decree absolute
Either party can apply for the decree to be absolute
One or other party must apply for the decree absolute
a] Application by petitioner
How:-The petitioner's lawyer (or the petitioner when no lawyers are involved) completes the application form 12 and hands it in to the Judicial Greffe. The form needs a £40 Treasury stamp.
When:-Application can be made six weeks and one day after the decree nisi is granted.
b] Application by respondent
How:-The respondent lawyer (or the respondent when no lawyers are involved) completes the application form 12 but must also summons the petitioner (or her/his lawyer) using form 15. The form needs a £40 Treasury stamp, but the summons needs an extra £150. The summons asks the petitioner why they have not applied for the decree absolute.
When:- An application can be made six weeks, plus three months, after the decree nisi is granted.
Granting of decree absolute
The decree absolute will usually only be given when all the arrangements for children have been agreed. A child is a person under 18 (or if over 18 and still in full time education).
Delays in getting a decree absolute
The granting of the decree absolute should be simple and straightforward, but the arrangements and orders for any children have to be agreed. see para 4. These arrangements could be held up if either party does not agree or if the lawyers do not do what they need to do.
It is up to the respondent to convince the court that the decree absolute should be granted in the event that the petitioner does not respond to the paperwork or make an application.
It is possible for either the petitioner or respondent to apply for the decree absolute without the use of lawyers by using the Judicial Greffe, but the lawyers who have been acting during the divorce should be told that they are no longer instructed (needed) to avoid two sets of paperwork being produced or there being a misunderstanding.
If neither party asks for the divorce within twelve months, the court may ask for the reason for the delay.
Setting aside or stopping divorce proceedings
Before the decree nisi:-
You can stop at any time, (with legal costs to pay, of course).
After decree nisi:-
If the petitioner, who has been granted a decree nisi, changes their mind and does not wish to apply for the decree absolute, the respondent can apply for the decree absolute after six weeks plus three months even if the petitioner does not agree.
However, the decree nisi can be set aside or cancelled if both parties agree.
If there is no agreed consent and one party does not agree, it may be possible to appeal to set aside a decree nisi by writing to the Court. Advice should be sought from the Judicial Greffe, or your lawyer.
After decree absolute:-
There is no way to set aside the decree absolute.
How to get a copy of the decree absolute
Write to the Family Division of the Royal Court enclosing a cheque for £30, payable to the Treasurer of the States, or Treasury stamps to the same value, and also a stamped addressed envelope.
You will need to provide your full name/s and those of your ex- spouse and the month/year that the divorce was finalised.