What’s the Difference Between a Decree Nisi and a Conditional Order?

What’s the Difference Between Decree Nisi and Conditional Order?
Legally reviewed by: Shakeela Bi In: Family

As of the 6th of April 2022, changes have been made to the law on divorce in the UK. This has led to many changes and various reforms to the general process of divorce or separation. The new process is called no-fault divorce which you can read about further here. One of the changes under no-fault divorce is the introduction of the term ‘Conditional Order’ to replace the formally used ‘Decree Nisi’.

What is Decree Nisi?

Before April 2022, the divorce process was broken down into three stages. These were:

  • The Divorce Petition
  • The Decree Nisi
  • The Degree Absolute

The Decree Nisi relates to divorces that started before April 2022. It is a provisional decree of divorce that is given by the family court. It is given when the legal and procedural requirements for divorce are met by a person. However, after receiving the Decree Nisi the marriage still stands and further action is required to become legally divorced.

The Decree Nisi is the first goal in the divorce procedure. Completing this stage leads to a greater likelihood of a successful divorce. However, in later cases after April 2022 it no longer applies.

What’s the Difference Between Decree Nisi and Conditional Order?

If your divorce began after the 6th of April 2022, you would instead deal with a Conditional Order. This replaces the Decree Nisi, however, they serve the same purpose. In both the Decree Nisi and the Conditional Order, they both act as the first or two decrees you will need to obtain to get divorced.

You can apply for a Conditional Order once 20 weeks have passed since divorce proceedings were issued and started officially by the court. This provides that the application has been properly served on the other party.

In a similar way to the Decree Nisi, you are still legally married after the Conditional Order has been made. The purpose of a Decree Nisi or a Conditional Order is to provide a formal confirmation that you’re legally entitled to a divorce.

How to Apply for a Conditional Order?

Although under the new no-fault divorce process, it is no longer possible to content a divorce application, this doesn’t mean that a Conditional Order will be necessarily granted. To obtain a Conditional Order there are certain processes you will need to follow. In addition, there are specific timescales that will indicate how long it will take before the Conditional Order is granted.

To apply for a Conditional Order, you will need to have first gone through the following steps.

  • One of both spouses must complete and submit a divorce application online. The application needs to include a statement of irretrievable breakdown to confirm that the relationship is over. With the no-fault divorce couples needed to provide a reason such as adultery, however, this is no longer required under no-fault divorce.
  • Once the application has been sent off, if only one spouse has sent the application, the other spouse will receive an ‘acknowledgment of service’ within 14 days. Alternatively, you can make a joint application.
  • After 20 weeks you can apply for a Conditional Order. You will usually receive a notification when you are able to start this application.

Will the Court Accept my Condition Order?

If your divorce has been accepted by the court, it is unlikely that the court will refuse the Conditional Order.

However, in some exceptional cases, the court may refuse the Conditional Order. The refusal may provide someone grounds to appeal a divorce application which the courts may need to take into consideration. Examples of this are where the English and Welsh courts don’t have jurisdiction to deal with the divorce, the marriage may not be deemed valid, or you are already divorced.

What Happens After a Conditional Order is Granted?

After the Conditional Order is issued, there is a 6-week wait before an applicant or joint applicants can apply for a Final Order (previously called a Decree Absolute).

Once the Final Order is granted, the divorce or civil partnership is legally ended.

Changing Your Mind After Getting a Conditional Order

You can change your mind about your divorce even after getting a Conditional Order. This is because the partnership is not legally over until you have received a Final Order.

How Cartwright King Can Help?

How can our specialised no-fault divorce lawyers help you?

A divorce can be a difficult process to navigate through which is why we want to make the process easier and straightforward for you, with the help of our expert family law solicitors.

In most cases, court proceedings aren’t necessary as long if negotiations are handled with care and understanding. Our family law solicitors can help individuals during each step of the divorce process, whilst focusing on getting the best result for their client.

Our dedicated family law solicitors have helped many clients through their divorce and separation proceedings, including financial settlement hearings and children disputes. We have a long history of finding compromises that work for everyone.

Contact us today for expert help and advice.

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.