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Final Order in Divorce

By , on Wednesday March 20, 2024 at 4:13 pm

The process of making a divorce application involves several steps, culminating in a Final Order being issued by the courts.

Final Orders represent a critical point in divorce proceedings. A Final Order legally confirms that a divorce is complete.

Given the importance of Final Orders, it is vital to understand what they represent, what steps need to be taken to secure a Final Order, and what the relevant timescales are.

Our expert solicitors can provide detailed guidance on when and how to apply for a Final Order, as well as the full process of getting a divorce.

What is a Final Order in divorce?

A Final Order is a court order which legally ends a marriage. After a Final Order has been issued by the courts, both you and your former partner will be formally divorced and free to remarry.

Under previous divorce laws, a Final Order was known as a ‘Decree Absolute’. 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.

How to apply for a Final Order in divorce

You can only apply for a Final Order after the courts have previously confirmed that there is no legal reason why the divorce should not go ahead. The courts signify this by issuing a Conditional Order.

After the Conditional Order has been issued, there is a 6-week waiting period before you can apply for a Final Order.

There is a standard application form (Form D36) which needs to be completed. Once granted and sealed, both parties are officially divorced.

Who can apply for a Final Order in divorce?

The sole (or joint) applicant normally makes the application for the Final Order. You can apply for a final order as a sole applicant, even if you started the divorce process jointly with your husband or wife.

If you are the respondent in the divorce and the applicant does not apply for the Final Order you can do so. This can be done 3 months after the date that the applicant was originally able to make an application.

How long does a Final Order take in divorce?

From the date of the application for divorce it takes a minimum of 26 weeks (6 months) to reach the stage where applying for a Final Order is possible. This is due to the combination of the 20-week waiting period for the Conditional Order and 6-week waiting period for the Final Order.

After an application is made for a Final Order, it can take anywhere from 24 hours to a few weeks for it to be processed and issued.

What happens after applying for a Final Order in divorce?

After an application for a Final Order has been made, the court will check that the time limits have been met and that there are no other reasons not to grant the divorce.

Once these checks are complete, the court will send a copy of the Final Order to both parties (or their solicitors). From this point on, you will be divorced and free to remarry again if you wish.

How long after a Final Order are you divorced?

As soon as the Final Order is issued, you will be considered divorced. There are no other steps to the legal process of getting divorced.

Any other arrangements, such as those concerning your finances and children, are handled separately.

What is the difference between a Decree Absolute and a Final Order?

Aside from the difference in terminology, the effect of a Decree Absolute and Final Order is the same. Decree Absolutes were used to provide legal confirmation of a divorce before being replaced by Final Orders with the introduction of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020.

What else needs to be arranged after a Final Order is issued?

Even after a Final Order is confirmed, there may be additional arrangements which will need to be sorted.

Depending on when negotiations started, you may still need to finalise financial arrangements  or decide on what arrangements should be made for your children.

Ideally the arrangements you agree for the division of marital finances should be confirmed with a consent order before you apply for the Final Order. Failure to do so could result in financial claims in the future. To help ensure that a divorce is as efficient as possible, our solicitors can work alongside you to discuss these matters and help you reach an agreement as quickly as possible.

Our solicitors are here for you

Our team are here to guide you and make the process of applying for a Final 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.

Davina Warrington
Family law solicitor, Burton on Trent

Blog Author - Davina Warrington

Davina WarringtonDavina Warrington

Woolley & Co's Burton upon Trent-based family solicitor Davina, specialises in divorce, financial settlements and family law.


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