Apply for a decree absolute

The decree absolute is the legal document that ends your marriage.

You need to wait at least 43 days (6 weeks and 1 day) after the date of the decree nisi before you can apply for a decree absolute.

Apply within 12 months of getting the decree nisi - otherwise you will have to explain the delay to the court.

How to apply

To apply for a decree absolute, fill in the notice of application for decree nisi to be made absolute form.

If you want a legally binding arrangement for dividing money and property you must apply to the court for this before you apply for a decree absolute.

Getting the decree absolute

The court will check that:

  • time limits have been met
  • there are no other reasons not to grant the divorce

The court will then send you both a decree absolute.

You’ll get your decree absolute within:

  • 24 hours (Monday to Friday) if you applied online
  • 10 days if you applied by post

If a solicitor is acting for you, the decree absolute will be sent to them. You’ll need to ask them for a copy.

Once you get the decree absolute, you are divorced, no longer married and free to marry again if you wish.

Keep the decree absolute safe - you will need to show it if you remarry or to prove your marital status.

If you lose your decree absolute, you can apply to the court for a copy.

If you do not apply for the decree absolute

Your husband or wife can apply for the decree absolute if you do not. They’ll have to wait an extra 3 months to do this, on top of the standard 43 days.

  1. Step 1 Get support and advice

    You can get support or counselling to help you through the divorce process.

    1. Get support and advice from Relate
    2. Find a counsellor on Counselling Directory
  2. Step 2 Check if you can get divorced

  3. Step 3 Make arrangements for children, money and property

  4. Step 4 Apply for a divorce

  5. Step 5 Apply for 'decree nisi'

    You need to apply for a 'decree nisi' and give the court more information about why your marriage has broken down.

    1. Apply for a decree nisi
  6. Step 6 Finalise your divorce

    You need to apply for a 'decree absolute' to finalise your divorce. You'll have to wait 6 weeks and 1 day from the date of your decree nisi.

    1. You are currently viewing: Apply for a decree absolute

    Once the court approves your decree absolute, they'll send you both a copy of it and your divorce will be complete.

  7. Step 7 Report that your circumstances have changed

    You also have to tell other government organisations that you're getting divorced if: