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

A decree nisi is a document from the court that confirms you are able to end your marriage through a divorce.

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. However, if your spouse contests the decree nisi 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 nisi is granted, 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 is officially over. 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. As a general guide we normally say that a divorce takes around four to six months but can take much longer.

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