Family Lore Clinic: I have the decree nisi can my ex stop me getting the decree absolute?


A divorce involves the making of two decrees by the court: the decree nisi, whereby the court declares that the person who has applied for it (usually the petitioner) is entitled to a divorce, and the decree absolute, which finalises the divorce.

The person who obtained the decree nisi may normally apply for the decree absolute after six weeks have elapsed from the date of the decree nisi, and the court will normally make the decree absolute as a formality.

Is there anything that the other party (who I shall call 'the respondent') can do to prevent the decree absolute?

Leaving aside the unlikely event that there is some sort of procedural irregularity enabling the respondent to apply to have the decree nisi cancelled, all they can do is try to delay the decree absolute, and only then in limited circumstances.

If the divorce is on the basis of two years' separation and consent or the basis of five years' separation, the respondent can apply to the court for consideration of their financial position. Once such an application has been made, the court may delay the decree absolute until such time as reasonable financial provision has been made for the respondent.

In certain religious marriages, the respondent could apply to delay the divorce until a religious divorce has been obtained.

Otherwise, the respondent could simply apply to the court for the decree absolute to be postponed, on the basis that they will suffer some serious prejudice (usually financial) if it is not delayed. However, the court will very rarely agree to such applications.

As usual, if you require any further advice regarding this issue, you should consult a specialist family lawyer.

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