In the recent case of K v K*, a Husband and Wife proceeded through the usual steps of a financial application, and at final hearing an outcome was imposed on both parties by the judge.
It subsequently transpired that Decree Nisi has not been pronounced when the judge made that final financial order. The Husband obtained Decree Nisi some 4 months after the final hearing.
Decree Nisi is the first stage of divorce, when the court confirms that the petitioner is entitled to a divorce, that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, and that it will be dissolved unless a reason is given to the court within the subsequent six weeks. A petitioner is then entitled to apply for Decree Absolute, to finalise the divorce, after that six week period has expired.
It is crucial that Decree Nisi is in place prior to a judge making a final financial order. If a final order is made without an awareness that Decree Nisi is not in place, the order is a nullity, and the parties will have to have their case reheard.
Therefore in the case of K v K, the court ordered a re-hearing of the parties’ final hearing. The judge recorded that “This, I recognise, is a depressing outcome for both parties, who are now returned to the place they were in shortly before the final hearing in December 2015.”
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