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Conditional Order in Divorce

By , on Wednesday March 27, 2024 at 2:52 pm

There are various stages to the divorce process in England and Wales. Regardless of whether you are making a sole or joint application, you will always need to apply to the courts for a Conditional Order (formerly referred to as a Decree Nisi).

Conditional Orders in divorce are an important formality, representing a key interim step in divorce proceedings.

If you are considering divorce, it is important to understand what a Conditional Order is, what steps come before and after an application for a Conditional Order is made, and what the relevant timescales are.

Our expert solicitors can provide detailed guidance on Conditional Divorce Orders, as well as the full the process of getting a divorce.

What is a Conditional Order in divorce?

A Conditional Order is a court order that confirms the court does not see any legal reason why you and your partner cannot divorce.

Under previous divorce laws, a Conditional Orders was referred to as a Decree Nisi. The terminology was updated as part of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, which also saw the introduction of ‘no fault divorce’ in England and Wales.

Conditional Orders do not confirm that a divorce is finalised. The confirmation of a divorce only takes place when a Final Order is issued (formerly known as the Decree Absolute).

How do you apply for a Conditional Order?

Applying for a Conditional Order can only be done after a divorce application has been completed, submitted to the court (normally online) and accepted by both parties. At this stage it will be issued by the court.

Importantly, after the divorce application is issued, there is a 20-week waiting period. Only after this 20-week waiting period has expired can you apply for a Conditional Order. If you are the applicant, you will be notified at this stage.

How long does a Conditional Order take?

Once a Conditional Order application is submitted, the court will review it to confirm whether the divorce can be granted. The time it takes to secure this approval can vary depending on court backlogs and workloads.

Can a Conditional Order be rejected?

If a divorce application has already been accepted by the court, the chances of a Conditional Order then being rejected are slim.

What happens after a Conditional Order?

Once you have been granted a Conditional Order, the next step in the divorce process is to apply for a Final Order. The Final Order is the court order that confirms that you and your former spouse are divorced and will also be free to remarry.

It is worth noting that, even after a Conditional Order has been granted, it is still possible for you and your partner to agree to stop the process before applying for a Final Order.

How long between a Conditional order and a Final Order?

There is another waiting period in between the Conditional Order and Final Order. You must wait 6 weeks and 1 day after the conditional order before you can apply for a Final Order.

With the two waiting periods in mind, you can expect it to take a minimum of 7 months to get a divorce.

Who can apply for a Conditional Order?

Under the new divorce rules, you can either apply for a divorce as sole or joint applicants. The applicant or applicants will apply for the Conditional Order, as part of the process.  You can apply for a conditional order and continue with the divorce as a sole applicant, even if you started the process jointly.

If the application is made on a sole basis the other party, known as the respondent, cannot make the application for the Conditional Order. If you are in this situation contact us and we’ll see if we can help.

Do you have to wait for a Conditional Order to be granted before applying for a consent order?

A consent order is a legally binding document issued by a court. It details how the joint assets you and your partner hold will be divided, covering money, property, investments, pensions and savings. In some cases, a consent order may also include provisions for spousal maintenance or child maintenance payments.

A consent order is filed with the court after a Conditional Order has been granted. It is sensible to pursue a consent order at the same time as, or soon after, you initiate your divorce proceedings to ensure there is no delay in obtaining the order from the Court.

Our solicitors are here for you

Our team are here to guide you and make this process of divorce and applying for a Conditional Order as simple and stress-free as possible, removing any unnecessary delays, while making sure you get the best outcome for yourself and your loved ones.

To take advantage of your free 30-minute consultation with our expert divorce lawyers, call 0800 321 3832, or complete our quick online form.

Fiona Spinks
Divorce and family solicitor Cambridge



Blog Author - Fiona Spinks

Fiona SpinksFiona Spinks

Fiona is a very experienced family law solicitor based in Duxford, Cambridgeshire. She advises clients on a full range of family law matters.


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