Is Decree Absolute / Final Order Automatically Pronounced?

By Jenna Brewer

Senior Chartered Legal Executive

With the advent of the no fault divorce and change of terminology from decree nisi to conditional order and decree absolute to final order, it is important to ensure that whether you applied though the old procedure or intend to divorce through the new regime, that you remember to apply for the order that actually dissolves the marriage.

Decree absolute/final order are not pronounced automatically by the court and an application has to be made for the court to take this final step. Usually the applicant(s) would take this step, the earliest date it can be applied for being six weeks and one day after the pronouncement of decree nisi/conditional order (with an expedited process in a few defined circumstances), but often parties will wait until the division of the matrimonial finances has been agreed which can mean that this step can be forgotten. Decree nisi/conditional order simply means that the court will be in a position to dissolve the marriage in the future, but at that stage the parties remain married. The failure to make the application for decree absolute/final order can have consequences in the future such should either of the parties remarry they would be committing bigamy if their previous marriage had not been dissolved.

Copies of orders can be obtained from the court if there is any doubt and nowadays many orders are now issued electronically rather than in paper format. Decree absolute/final orders should be kept in a safe place as you may need to refer to them in the future and prove that your divorce was finalised as to avoid the surprise that you still remain married to your ex.

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