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How to Apply for Decree Nisi in the UK

Your husband or wife (and any co-respondent) must answer whether they intend to defend the case. Providing no one intends to defend the divorce petition, you can go ahead and apply for decree nisi.

What is Decree Nisi in Divorce?

You must ask the court to consider whether your grounds for a divorce are valid.

The courts call this process ‘applying for a decree nisi’. A ‘conditional order’ is a similar process for a couple ending a civil partnership.

So, if the court grants you a decree nisi document, it means they see no reason why you cannot get a divorce.

It is not uncommon for a husband or a wife to ‘not agree’ to a divorce. But, you can still apply for the decree nisi even if they do not agree to it.

In this case, you would need to attend a court hearing to discuss your case. A judge will then decide whether to grant a decree nisi – or not.

Getting a Decree Nisi

Once the respondent replies to your petition there are several steps to follow. HM Courts and Tribunals service have produced guidance notes D186 on this subject. Then, you can fill in the application for a decree nisi.

You must confirm that the information given in your divorce petition is the truth. Use one of the five statement forms to confirm what you said is true.

Note: Use the form that most relates to the reason you gave for your divorce. Remember to attach a copy of your spouse’s response to the divorce petition.

In most cases, the judge will agree with the application for decree nisi. The court then sends out a certificate to you and to your spouse (husband or wife). The certificate informs you of the time and the date that you will be granted the decree nisi.

After the court grants the decree nisi, you must wait 43 days (six weeks and one day). Following that, you can then ‘apply for a decree absolute’ to completely end the marriage.

What if the Application is Rejected?

Despite being uncommon, a court may decide you cannot get a divorce. If this happens, you will receive a ‘notice of refusal of judge’s certificate’ form. The document explains why they rejected the application for divorce.

The same form will also inform you what you can do next. As a rule, the judge will ask for more information (in writing), or you may have to attend a court hearing.

Note: If there is going to be a court hearing it would be best to find a legal adviser to explain the legal process.


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Applying for Decree Nisi in the United Kingdom