Apply for decree nisi

You can apply for a decree nisi if your husband or wife does not defend your divorce petition.

A decree nisi is a document that says that the court does not see any reason why you cannot divorce.

If your husband or wife does not agree to the divorce, you can still apply for a decree nisi. However, you’ll have to go to a court hearing to discuss the case, where a judge will decide whether to grant you a decree nisi.

Because of coronavirus (COVID-19), your hearing may be postponed or it may take place by phone or video. If you already have a hearing date, the court will contact you and tell you how the hearing will take place.

How to apply

To get a decree nisi, read the guidance and then fill in the application for a decree nisi.

You must also fill in a statement confirming that what you said in your divorce petition is true.

There are 5 statement forms - use the one that covers the reason you’ve given for your divorce:

Attach a copy of your husband’s or wife’s response to the divorce petition.

Getting a decree nisi

If the judge agrees, the court will send you and your husband or wife a certificate. This may take several weeks.

The certificate will tell you the time and date you’ll be granted a decree nisi.

You’ll still be married after the decree nisi has been granted. You’ll have to wait 43 days (6 weeks and 1 day) before you can apply for a ‘decree absolute’ to actually end the marriage.

Your application is rejected

You may be sent a ‘notice of refusal of judge’s certificate’ form, saying why you cannot divorce.

The form will tell you what to do next. The judge may want more information in writing, or you may have to go to a court hearing.

You can get legal advice if there’s going to be a court hearing.

  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. You are currently viewing: 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. 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: