The Decree Nisi and Conditional Divorce Order Explained.

decree nisi

The ‘Decree Nisi’ and the ‘Conditional Divorce Order’ represent a key stage in divorce proceedings.

Once granted, both of these orders indicate that the court sees ‘no reason why a divorce should not be granted unless new and consequential reasons are presented. Such as; the court does not actually have jurisdiction over your marriage or that the marriage was not valid in the first place.

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Neither of these orders will legally terminate your marriage but the clock (six weeks and one day) will start ticking before the ‘Final Divorce Order’ can be granted and legally bring an end to the marriage. This is also generally the stage where any financial settlements made between spouses or ‘consent orders’ can be approved by the courts and become provisionally binding.

Which Of These Orders Apply To You And What Is The Difference Between Them?

If your application was made before the 6th of April 2022 then your divorce will be subject to a three-stage process.

  • The Divorce Petition
  • The Decree Nisi
  • The Decree Absolute

What Does Decree Nisi Mean?

In this scenario, the meaning of Decree Nisi is the middle stage of a divorce and will be granted only once one of the grounds for divorce has been sufficiently proven to the court. This means that the applicant must demonstrate a conduct or separation fact that proves the marriage has reached a point of ‘irretrievable breakdown’. Simply making this statement will not be sufficient if your partner chooses to contest it. Refusal to grant a Decree Nisi is uncommon but is still possible, in which case you will receive a ‘notice of refusal of judge’s certificate’.

If your application is made after the 6th of April 2022 then you will benefit from a new set of rules and procedures called the ‘No-Fault Divorce’. Your divorce will consist of two stages.

  • ‘The Conditional Divorce Order’
  • ‘The Final Divorce Order’

In this case ‘The Conditional Divorce Order’ replaces ‘Decree Nisi’ and the major difference is alluded to by the phrase ‘No Fault Divorce’. There is no longer any need to apportion blame for the breakdown of the marriage or provide proof of separation. This can help avoid unnecessary finger-pointing, and further breakdown of the relationship and preserve a civil environment which will be especially beneficial if children are caught up in the middle of the divorce. 

Another benefit is that one partner can no longer maliciously delay, disrupt or prevent the divorce from taking place and will not be able to trap their partner in an unhappy marriage.

The new rules achieve this by not asking for any evidence or fact, one partner can simply state that the ‘marriage has reached a point of irretrievable breakdown and this will satisfy the courts of your right to a Conditional Divorce Order. Furthermore, couples can now make a joint application and get through the process communally instead of on separate sides.

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How To Obtain A ‘Conditional Divorce Order’ And What Is The Next Stage?

Let us consider that you are seeking to divorce your partner, in which case you will be referred to as the applicant and your partner the respondent. The process will be as follows:

  • You must have been married for at least a year before you can obtain a Conditional Divorce Order
  • Complete a D8 form and send it to the court declaring that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. 
  • Pay the court fee of £593 (this is subject to change so please check with our family lawyers London for the most up-to-date costs). 
  • The courts will then send a copy of the application to the respondent who has 14 days to return the acknowledgment of service. If they fail to then the courts will serve them notice in person.
  • Alternatively, both parties may initiate proceedings by making a joint application and will be known as applicant 1 and applicant 2. Applicant 1 will complete the form, pay the court fee and send the application to be checked and completed by applicant 2 who will then give it back to be checked by applicant 1 and sent back to the court. The court will then serve notice to both applicants. 
  • Once the courts are happy with the paperwork there is a mandatory 20-week cooling-off period. This gives the couple time to reflect on the decision and settle their emotions. It also provides a window of time to negotiate a financial settlement amicably. If in agreement this can then be drafted by a solicitor into a ‘consent order’. 
  • After the 20-week period has been allotted you can apply for the Conditional Divorce Order and once the application is received the court will give you the date it will be pronounced.

Once the Conditional Court Order has been obtained you will have to wait six weeks and one day before applying for the Final Divorce Order. This is the second and final stage of the divorce process and puts a legal end to your marriage.

Although the new legislation seeks to simplify the divorce procedure, it is still an extremely delicate process, keeping in mind that any financial settlements or child custody litigations will be running concurrently and are subject to a completely separate ruling with their own legal processes. The result of these negotiations can be payments that are due for the rest of your life and will dictate how and when you have access to your children. Therefore one cannot stress enough the importance of assigning experienced and diligent family lawyers to ensure a fair outcome for your family and future. 

How Can Our Family Lawyers Help?

At Gulbenkian Andonian Solicitors we can provide you with an experienced and understanding family lawyer London to help you through the process of divorce (under the most up-to-date rules) as smoothly as possible. We understand that a divorce can be an immensely difficult time for all parties involved and will work with you to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved whether it be in relation to your children, finances, or property.

For more information and to book a consultation please contact us.

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At Gulbenkian Andonian, we pride ourselves on “Excellence, Experience and Efficiency”. With over 35 years of experience on your side, our team of London based lawyers and solicitors have a wealth of experience advising individuals, families and businesses of all sizes to find clarity on UK law.

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