Nisi to see you, to see you Nisi: applying for a Decree Nisi

    Nisi to see you, to see you Nisi: applying for a Decree Nisi

    If you are considering getting a divorce, you may have heard the Latin phrases Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute being used by friends, family or legal professionals and nodded along whilst secretly thinking, “What on earth does this lawyer speak mean?” Well, here’s everything you need to know about how you can apply for a Decree Nisi.

    There are a number of stages to getting divorced, one of which is obtaining a Decree Nisi.

    Read more: A quick guide to the divorce process

    What is a Decree Nisi?

    Decree Nisi is a Latin phrase which means “a decree, order, or rule that takes effect, or is valid only after certain conditions are met”. For those who have been or are going through the process of a divorce, it is of particular importance.

    Many people hear the term ‘decree’ and assume that this means they are now divorced. Whilst this is a common misconception, it is a precarious mistake to make. Decree Nisi is the first stage decree, you are NOT yet divorced, although you are well on the way to being so.

    The second stage is to obtain a Decree Absolute, which brings the marriage to an end.

    How can I apply for a Decree Nisi?

    It falls to the Petitioner (the person who commenced divorce proceedings) to apply for the Decree Nisi. This can only be done once your husband or wife confirms to the Court that they will not defend the divorce.

    If your husband or wife doesn’t agree to the divorce, you can still apply for a Decree Nisi. However, you may have to go to a Court hearing to discuss the case, where a Judge will decide whether to grant you a Decree Nisi. This is very rare, not least because of the legal costs involved in defending divorce proceedings.

    In any event, arguably, what benefit will a spouse get from insisting that their partner remains married to them if they truly are intent on getting divorced?

    Once it is clear that the proceedings won’t be defended, the Petitioner completes a formal Statement in Support of their Petition, together with an application for the Decree Nisi which goes off to the judge.

    Assuming the papers are in order, the Court will issue a Certificate of Entitlement and set a date for pronouncement of the Decree Nisi, normally within a month or so.

    It is not necessary for you to attend Court when the Decree Nisi is granted but, in theory, you can, although as all divorces are now processed in large Divorce Units, the Court may be many miles away. At the same time, the Court will also make any orders, agreed or otherwise, about the legal costs of the mechanics of the divorce.

    An important point to note is that once the Decree Nisi is made the Court then have jurisdiction to make a final financial remedy order, which sets out how the matrimonial financial resources are divided. Even if you have reached an agreement with your spouse, the Court has no power to make such an order until Decree Nisi has been granted.

    What do I need to do after the Decree Nisi has been granted?

    Once Decree Nisi is granted, you have to wait six weeks and one day before you apply for the Decree Absolute. However, importantly, the normal advice is not to do so until finance arrangements have been resolved.

    Are you considering getting a divorce? Download our free guide and find out the six key decisions you need to make.

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