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Perhaps emotionally, it seems a step too far, too soon – and the Petitioner, despite having initiated the process, cannot bring him self or herself to take the final step.
So the Respondent may also apply, three months after the earliest date that the Petitioner could have done so, and that application too is usually a formality.
The parties are still able to change their minds about getting divorced.
That is why it is called : the Latin term for “unless.” There is a six week and one day minimum mandatory period between grant of decree nisi and decree absolute, so that if the couple do want to change their minds, they will remain married. I have one client who has twice obtained decree nisi from her husband, only to backtrack from the point at which the divorce was to be finalised.
Sometimes the parties agree at the outset that neither of them will apply for decree absolute until all the issues between them are resolved.
In fact there are occasions when, legally, it is unwise to apply for decree absolute.
The Court held that the husband, who was also seeking his decree absolute, was entitled to it unless the wife “could show special circumstances to defer it”. Citing Dart, Mr Justice Baker held that the power to delay decree absolute “is an exercise of discretion of the trial judge but that exercise of discretion weights the granting of the decree absolute against the special circumstances very heavily in favour of the grant.
It has happened in two of my cases over the last 20 years.
Benefits such as a widow’s pension, automatically payable under a husband’s pension scheme, may be lost if the husband dies suddenly and there is a decree absolute, but the financial side is still rumbling on and no financial court order is in place.
For example, if there is a potential bankruptcy on the horizon and a financial settlement needs to be implemented.
Or if there is a new baby on the way, and an urgent need to remarry.