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I’m getting a divorce. What’s a decree absolute?

A decree absolute is the document from the court that brings your marriage to an end. After you have a decree absolute you are no longer married and can both now enter into marriages with other people.

The process of getting a decree absolute can be relatively straightforward or complex, depending on your circumstances. For example, if one or both of you has a large amount of wealth and assets spread around the world and cannot come to an agreement on how to split these, then it could take a long time to get your decree absolute. As a rough estimate we say it usually takes around four to six months but can take a lot longer.

Once the respondent has been served with the petition (this can be done by process servers if they refuse) then the decree nisi can be applied for. If the grounds of the petition are accepted the decree nisi will then be pronounced in court. The court will then make an order in relation to finances and once this is agreed the decree absolute will be applied for. It is when the decree absolute is finalised that the marriage has officially ended. The decree absolute has to be applied for at least 6 weeks and 1 day after the decree nisi 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.

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