What is a decree absolute? Step by step guide & how to apply - D36 form example

What is a decree absolute? Step by step guide

Originally published on 9th January 2019 at 5:55 PM

Reading time: 2 mins

A ‘decree absolute’ or ‘form D36’ is the final stage of a divorce process. This is called the final order if you are dissolving your civil partnership. For more information about dissolving a civil partnership, you can read our guide here.

When you receive your decree absolute or final order certificate, it means that you are legally divorced or that your civil partnership has been dissolved. You are only able to apply for your decree absolute, six weeks and one day after your decree nisi date.

There are four steps you’ll need to complete in order to get a decree absolute, we have outlined them below:

Applying for a decree absolute

You can apply for your divorce or dissolution online or via the post and for more information on this you can read our full guide on how to apply for divorce in England or Wales here.

To start the legal process of ending your marriage or civil partnership, you will need to submit a divorce/ dissolution petition to the court. Read our step-by-step on how to do this here.

When the courts receive your petition and court fee (you may be entitled to a discount on the £593 court fee), the other person will receive a document through the post. If you have applied online then they will receive a letter with login details so that they can acknowledge that they have received the petition online. If you have posted your divorce petition to court, they will need to fill in the form sent to them and return it to the owning court.

Decree nisi is the stage where a judge will review your petition and decide if agree that the marriage/civil partnership has broken down past the point of repair. You can read about how to apply for your decree nisi application here. If the judge approves the petition, you will receive a letter stating your ‘decree nisi pronouncement date’.

Your decree nisi pronouncement date allows you to proceed with the following:

  • At this point, if you have finances to sort out, you can submit your consent order to the court for a judge to review. A consent order is a legally binding document that formalises your financial split and ends future claims.
  • The countdown for when you are able to apply for the decree absolute starts. Couples must wait six weeks and one day after their decree nisi Pronouncement date before they can submit their application for the decree absolute. See this as a cooling-off period, it’s your final chance to reconsider whether the relationship is definitely over.

Once you have waited six weeks and one day after your decree pronouncement date you can apply for the decree absolute. If you've applied for your divorce by the post, it usually takes the courts around two weeks to send you the decree absolute certificate. If you have applied for your divorce online it will take one to two days (subject to court processing times).

How to fill in the decree absolute form (D36 form)

If you have applied for your divorce by the post, then the below steps will help you fill out your decree absolute. The decree absolute application form (also called the D36 form) is the most straightforward form in the divorce process. You will need to fill in all the details including:

  • The name of the court that you’re processing the divorce / dissolution through (you can find details of this on other paperwork, for example your decree nisi paperwork
  • The case number (again this can be found on the other documents received from the court)
  • Name of the petitioner (the person who started the process)
  • Name of the respondent (the other person)
  • Name of the co-respondent - only relevant if you’ve used adultery as the reason for divorce and have chosen to name the other person
  • You’ll then need to indicate if the petitioner or respondent is applying for the decree absolute
  • The ‘decree nisi/conditional order’ refers to your decree nisi pronouncement date - you can find this on your decree nisi certificate
  • Make sure the document is signed and that the date is at least six weeks and one day after the decree nisi pronouncement date

Want to know more about the divorce process?

How do you get a copy of the decree absolute (D36) form?

If you applied for your divorce online, then you will receive an email when you can apply for your decree absolute. If you applied via the post, then you can download a copy of the decree absolute form below:

What does the decree absolute certificate look like?

If you have applied for your divorce online, then the decree absolute certificate will look slightly different to the paper example below:

Decree Absolute Certificate

How much does a decree absolute cost and how to get a copy?

This depends on how you manage the entire process. For more information on the different ways to divorce and how much they cost, see our article on the cost of divorce.

If you’ve lost your decree absolute certificate and need a new one, you can either contact the courts or ask whoever managed your divorce/ dissolution for a new copy. You may need to pay a small administrative fee to get a new copy.

The divorce process above usually takes around four months to complete if you aren't applying for a financial remedy order. If you’re unsure about any of the above, get in touch as one of our experts will be happy to talk you through the process.

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Rebecca Jones
Rebecca Jones
Rebecca has a background in family law and has also been through her own divorce. Rebecca is fantastic at offering pragmatic advice and is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to the legalities around divorce and separation.

Related content

What is a decree nisi?

What is a decree nisi?

The ‘decree nisi’ is the third step in the process. Read our step-by-step guide on how to apply.

How long does a divorce take in the UK?

How long does a divorce take in the UK?

In this blog, we set out the divorce process and the typical time it takes to divorce in the UK and some tips for speeding your divorce up.

What is a consent order?

What is a consent order?

A consent order is a legally binding document, that formalises the financial arrangements you and your ex have agreed to.

Comments (9)

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Mehreen

17.06.2019 23:17

Hi I want to ask something about my civil partnership end I want to dissolved my civil partnership but we are live some address but we are not living as a couple and we both of agree for end of marriage

Robert

15.07.2020 11:33

Can you get copies of old divorce records going back to 1945-1948? Regards Robert

Lilly Amorelli

17.08.2020 17:17

My DA says D37 on the bottom, right hand corner. Is that correc?

Joanne

08.08.2021 18:49

Hi can you please advise if there is a fee to pay when submitting an application for decree nisi to be made absolute Thank you

Holly from amicable

13.08.2021 14:09

Hi Joanne, no there shouldn't be a fee to pay when you submit your decree absolute application. Usually there is the initial court fee (£550) which covers the Court processing of the Divorce Petition, Decree Nisi application and Decree Absolute application. Any additional application may incur extra court fees (such as a consent order of D11 application).

Martyn

24.08.2021 19:13

Hi, I thought I was divorced but it turns out I have not had a decree absolute. My ex started divorce proceedings back in 2007 but never got beyond the nisi. What can I do?

Holly from amicable

03.09.2021 11:44

Hi Martyn, if you received the decree nisi certificate ie. your decree nisi was granted, you as the Respondent should be able to apply for the decree absolute yourself, as over three months would have passed since the decree nisi was granted. Give us a call if you need any help doing this.

Josephine

06.09.2021 13:24

I was divorced on 8th December 2016 as the petitioner paid for the divorce at the family court in Stoke-on-Trent West Midlands Divorce Unit 5 years ago how do I the respondent apply for a decree absolute and do I need to pay a fee for the decree absolute?

Holly from amicable

28.09.2021 10:08

Hi Josephine, if your divorce was finalised and you are looking to get a new copy of the decree absolute certificate, you will need to contact the court on 0300 303 0642. You will need to cite your case number, and they should be able to have a new copy posted to you, however you may need to pay around £10 for them to do this. I hope that helps!