This is a legal document that ends your marriage. Once you have obtained this document, you are divorced and no longer married which means you can marry again.
The decree absolute can be applied for 43 days after the decree nisi has been obtained. Before application, you should make sure that this time limit has been met and that there are no other reasons why the divorce should not be granted. Once these two criteria have been satisfied the court will send both parties to the marriage a decree absolute.
Decree absolute must be applied for within 12 months of receiving the decree nisi to avoid having to justify delays to the court. This is done by completing a Form D36 Notice of Application for Decree Nisi to be Made Absolute or Conditional Offer to be Made Final, which can be found on the gov.uk website.
However, if you seek a legally binding arrangement for dividing property and money, an application to the court for this must be made before you apply for decree absolute.
If you do not apply for the decree absolute your partner will be able to, but they will have to wait an additional 3 months after the standard 43 day period.
Before a Decree Absolute can be applied for, there are several states of the divorce process that one must go through. The first of these is a petition sent to the court by one of the parties. In order to keep good relations, it is beneficial for the other party to see this petition before it is sent to the court. Once the court receives the petition it will assign a case number to the matter and send copies to the other party. This process is called Issuing and can take between two to three weeks.
This is followed by a response from the spouse who received the petition from the court. The spouse will then complete and return an Acknowledgement of Service to the court usually within 7 days of receiving the petition and will confirm if they agree with the petition going ahead as well as their position on arrangements for care of children or costs. If the Acknowledgement is not received by the court, the petitioner must prove that the respondent has received the documents. This can be done by using a process server or court bailiff to personally hand the papers to the respondent. The petitioner can advise the court of deemed service if they can prove some other way that the respondent has received the documents.
When the Acknowledgment has been received by the court and sent to the petitioner, the petitioner can apply for decree nisi, which is the process where a District Judge will consider the petition and ascertain whether there are grounds for divorce. The application for decree nisi involves the petitioner completing an application form and statement confirming that the information in the petition are true. If the District Judge is satisfied a decree nisi certificate will be issued confirming that the petitioner is entitled to a divorce. There is no need for either party to attend court unless there is a dispute regarding the issue of costs. Decree absolute can be applied for 43 days after this time.
A Notary can certify that an original Decree Absolute is an authentic document and notarise it accordingly. If legalisation is required however, there may be no need for notarisation as the certificate may contain an official signature from the court which may be recognised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.