Family Lore Clinic: Am I divorced if I have not received a decree absolute?

The decree absolute is the final step in the divorce process. It can be made by the court after six weeks have elapsed from the pronouncement of the decree nisi. It is made when one party, usually the petitioner, applies for it. Upon receipt of the application the court will, if there are no problems, make the decree absolute and send sealed copies out to both parties.

You are divorced when the court makes the decree absolute, not when you receive it. Accordingly, you could be divorced even if you have not received the decree absolute. Obviously, you should normally receive the decree absolute within a couple of days of the court sending it out, unless there are problems with the post.

Note that the court will send the decree absolute to the last known address it has for you. You should therefore notify the court if you change address.

If you are unsure whether or not the court has made the decree absolute, you can check this with the court.