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 they do 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.

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

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