Family and Divorce Law Jargon Buster: Part 4 – Decree Absolute

June 12, 2013, By Slater Heelis


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 ABSOLUTE: This is the final order of the court which dissolves the marriage.  The court will send a Decree Absolute to both parties and this document replaces the marriage certificate for all legal and formal purposes.  The spouse who started the divorce (petitioner) can apply for a Decree Absolute after 6 weeks have passed after the date of the Decree Nisi.

There is a court fee of £45.  Often the petitioner will wait longer to allow both parties time to deal with financial and other issues arising out of the marriage breakdown.  If the petitioner waits for longer than 12 months, a short hearing before the judge will be necessary in order to explain the delay. If the petitioner delays unnecessarily and the respondent wishes to apply, he or she must wait for a further 3 months on top of the initial 6 weeks before it is possible to do so and will incur a court fee of £90. Before pronouncing the Decree Absolute, the court will consider whether there are any reasons not to grant the divorce such as inadequate arrangements for any children or if the time limits have not been complied with.  Once you have received the Decree Absolute, you are divorced and free to remarry.

Reference: Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 Section 1(5)

If you need more help or guidance about divorce, please contact one of the members of our divorce team at Slater Heelis LLP for more information and a free initial consultation on 0845 873 6500 or