What is a Decree Absolute?

Dictionary entry for divorce on smart tablet
Originally published on 9th January 2019 at 5:55 PM

A ‘Decree Absolute’ is the final stage of a divorce, or dissolution (if you have a civil partnership).

When you receive your Decree Absolute certificate, it means that you are legally divorced. There are four steps you’ll need to complete in order to get a Decree Absolute, we have outlined them below:

Step one: The Divorce/Dissolution Petition (legal form is called ‘D8’)

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.

Step two: The Acknowledgement of Service (legal form is called ‘D10’)

When the courts receive your petition and court fee (check if you’re entitled to a discount on the £550 court fee here), the other person will receive a document through the post. They will need to fill in the form sent to them and return it to the court.

Step three: Decree Nisi stage (legal forms are referred to as a ‘D84’ and ‘D80’)

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. 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:

  1. 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 the legally binding document that legalises your financial split and ends future claims.
  2. 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.

Step four: Decree Absolute (legal form is referred to as a ‘D36’)

Once you have waited six weeks and one day after your Decree Pronouncement date you can apply for the Decree Absolute. It usually takes the courts around two weeks to send you the Decree Absolute certificate.


The process above usually takes around three to fours months to complete. 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.

Book a free 15 minute advice call

About the author

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.


No comments yet.
Your comment
Your name
Your email

Sending ....

Your comment has been sending.

Comment will be visible after verification.

Your comment did not send. Please try again later.

Back to latest posts

Popular Categories