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I’m dissolving my civil partnership. What’s a decree nisi?

A decree nisi – also known as a conditional order – is a document from the court that confirms you are able to dissolve your civil partnership.

Once the respondent has been served with the petition (this can be done by process servers if they refuse) then the conditional order – also known as the decree nisi – can be applied for. If the grounds of the petition are accepted the decree nisi will then be pronounced in court. However, if your civil partner contests the dissolution then you will need to go to court to argue your case in front of a judge. The judge will then make the decision whether or not to grant the decree nisi.

Once the decree nice is granted, the court will then make an order in relation to finances and once this is agreed the final order – also known as the decree absolute – will be applied for. It is when the final order is finalised that the civil partnership is dissolved. The final order has to be applied for at least 6 weeks and 1 day after the conditional order is pronounced but this can take much longer if there is a complex financial settlement, for example if you are a high net worth individual with pension funds and investments spread out across the world. As a general guide we normally say the dissolution of a civil partnership takes around four to six months but can take much longer.

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