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Do I need a Decree Nisi?

It’s a time of serious stress in your life, least of all because you just don’t know how the process works. You and your partner have agreed that you want to divorce, now what? Do you need a Decree Nisi? What even IS a Decree Nisi?

Your first few steps are to decide what grounds you’re going to divorce on. Most people choose ‘unreasonable behaviour’ because the examples of what can be cited as unreasonable are so wide-reaching. Despite what it might initially appear, unreasonable behaviour doesn’t have to be anything as drastic as physical or emotional abuse and can actually just include examples of your partner not pulling their weight around the house or with your children.

Other grounds include adultery, if one of you has cheated, and separation if you have lived apart for over two years. Petitioners can also apply for a divorce if they have been ‘deserted’ by their partner for over two years or if the couple have lived apart for more than five years, in which case no consent is needed from the respondent. Once you have settled on your grounds, you then need to file your petition form in court containing all of the information needed on your marriage, children and reasons for the divorce. This is where you also pay your court fee and submit other supporting documents.

Your spouse will then have an opportunity to oppose or contest the divorce, and if all goes to plan they will agree for the divorce to go ahead. In most case when the divorce is not defended, the process is mostly just administrative and can be completed in under six months. After the respondent sends back their Acknowledgement of Service in agreement, the petitioner can then apply for their Decree Nisi by preparing a formal statement and answering various questions. 

The court now lists the Decree Nisi to be pronounced, where the papers are accepted and the grounds for divorce are approved by a judge. Most people do not need to attend the court to hear their decree nisi be pronounced, and this part of the process passes easily. This does not mean the marriage is over yet, as six weeks later you can apply for your Decree Absolute and then you will finally be divorced. Six weeks is the minimum amount of time that can pass, but in cases where finances have yet to be sorted you may choose to wait longer before officially ending the marriage.

If you're still confused, call us for free help and advice.

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