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)'.

Start your Divorce Petition now

Once completed by the 'petitioner' (the person applying for the divorce) the forms need to be submitted to the Regional Divorce Centre (DC) for your area. The court will inform your spouse (referred to as the 'respondent') that you are seeking a divorce and ask them 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.

The information on this page applies to England and Wales only.

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