What is a decree nisi?

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A 'decree nisi' is the first of two 'orders' which you need to obtain to finally end your marriage. The second order is called a 'decree absolute'. You will be able to apply for a decree nisi after you have sent your divorce petition to court and your spouse has indicated that he/she does not intend to defend (argue against) the divorce.

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To apply for a decree nisi, you will need to complete an 'Application for a decree nisi (Form D84)', together with an 'Statement in support of divorce' confirming the reasons why you want a divorce.

There are five different statements in support of divorce and you will need to complete the one relating to the reason for your divorce. The statements are as follows:

  • Statement in support of divorce - adultery (Form D80A)
  • Statement in support of divorce - unreasonable behaviour (Form D80B)
  • Statement in support of divorce - desertion (Form D80C)
  • Statement in support of divorce - 2 years' consent (Form D80D)
  • Statement in support of divorce - 5 years' separation (Form D80E)

If the court is satisfied that there are grounds for divorce, it will send you and your spouse a 'Certificate of entitlement to a decree', which will tell you the date and time when the judge will grant your decree nisi. However, you do not have to attend court in person for this.