Family and Divorce Law Jargon Buster: Part 3 – Decree Nisi

This is the next instalment in our bitesize blog series in which we hope to demystify some of the legal terms which are frequently used by family solicitors when giving legal advice and in the family courts environment.

DECREE NISI: This is an order of the court that the spouse who started the divorce applies for once the divorce petition has been sent to the other spouse (respondent) and there is proof of this. If the respondent defends the divorce or submits his or her own petition, the court cannot order the Decree Nisi until those issues are dealt with. In a straightforward divorce, the Decree Nisi is pronounced by the court and then the petitioning spouse can apply for the Decree Absolute once a time period of 6 weeks has expired. At the same time as pronouncing the Decree Nisi, the court will make a costs order dealing with who is to pay the costs of the divorce and will certify whether there are dependent children whose interests need to be considered throughout the proceedings.

Reference: Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 Section 1(5)

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