What is a decree absolute?

Guide to the final stage of divorce, the decree absolute and to completing the necessary paperwork

A 'decree absolute' is the final order in the divorce process which confirms that your marriage has legally ended and that you are free to marry again.

A decree absolute can be obtained six weeks after the date of your 'decree nisi' by submitting a 'Notice of application for decree nisi to be made absolute (Form D36)' to the court that is dealing with your divorce.

However, before you can apply for a decree absolute, there are a number of other divorce documents and forms that will need to be completed. The first document required in the divorce process is a 'divorce petition', referred to as 'Divorce/judicial separation petition (Form D8)'.

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Once completed by the 'petitioner' (the person applying for the divorce) the forms need to be submitted to a court for review. The court will inform your spouse (referred to as the 'respondent') that you are seeking a divorce and ask him/her if they intend to defend the divorce (i.e. argue against it).

If your spouse does not defend the divorce, the next stage is to apply for a 'decree nisi'. This involves completing an 'Application for a decree nisi (Form D84)', in addition to an 'statement' explaining the reason you want to get divorced.

If the court is satisfied that there are grounds for a divorce, it will issue a decree nisi which will enable you to apply for a decree absolute, which will legally bring your marriage to an end.