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19 February 2024

What are the decree absolute and the final order?

Learn all about the decree absolute, why you might need one, and how we can help you if you need one notarised in our informative blog.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Paper stick figures of a man and woman either side of a broken heart to represent divorce after getting a decree absolute.

The decree absolute and the final order of divorce are documents that are only issued at the end of divorce proceedings by the court that the proceedings took place at. 

It should not be confused with the decree nisi, now known as a conditional order, which is issued earlier on in divorce proceedings, and is only used as a sign from the court to show that they are satisfied that you can get divorced.

If your divorce proceedings began before 6 April 2022, then the documents you will be given are the decree nisi and the decree absolute. After 6 April 2022, you will be given a conditional order instead of a decree nisi, and a final order instead of a decree absolute.

How do I get a decree absolute or final order?

To put it simply, all you need to do is begin divorce proceedings by issuing a court with a petition of divorce. Then, you just need to go through the entire process, which ends with you getting a decree absolute or a final order. 

Once your divorce proceedings have neared their end, you will be issued a decree nisi or a conditional order, which as previously stated, signifies that the court is satisfied you can get divorced. You will have to wait 20 weeks after applying for a divorce before you can get a conditional order.

The decree absolute/final order are not automatically issued after the decree nisi/conditional order, so you must apply for it yourself. Before you can apply, you will have to wait at least 43 days (6 weeks and 1 day). Then, you will have up to 12 months to apply for the decree absolute by completing a form, called ‘Form D36’; if you wait for longer than 12 months, you must submit a statement alongside your application to explain why you delayed making your application. 

Due to the nature of divorce proceedings and how long they can take to be completed, it may take a while for you to be issued with a decree absolute. Divorce proceedings overall can take at least six months, as well as requiring you to spend hundreds of pounds in solicitor fees. Getting a decree absolute is not a quick and easy process.

What can I do with a decree absolute or final order?

Since the decree absolute and final order officially end and nullify your marriage, you can get use them as proof that you can get remarried in the future. It can also be used to prove your current marital status. 

Your decree can also be used overseas as proof that your marriage has ended, so that you can get remarried in another country. To do this, you will need the assistance of a Notary Public.

How we can help

Our expert Notary Public of England and Wales, Nathan Woodcock, can notarise your decree absolute or final order if you need to use it overseas. 

Your notary appointment can be arranged at one of our offices in London, Manchester, or Sheffield. Alternatively, you can use our mobile notary service, so our notary can meet you at your home, office, or any other suitable location, at a suitable time. 

Additionally, if you plan on using your decree absolute abroad, then you will need apostille and legalisation services. The service you need will vary depending on what country you plan on going to. 

For countries that accept apostilles, we will manage the whole process with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for you. We offer a standard service and a fast-track service to get you an apostille during a time-scale that suits you the best. Please note the time it takes for your documents to be issued with an apostille by the FCDO can vary based on the time of year.

Some countries will instead require consular legalisation, such as the UAE. We can manage the whole process of legalisation for you as well. 

Get in touch with us today if you need our notary’s help with your decree absolute.


If you have any questions about our notary, apostille or consular services,
contact Woodcock Notary Public today.

Call us on 0800 049 2471 (free to call) or email

If you have any questions about our notary, apostille or consular services, contact Woodcock Notary Public today.

Call us on 0800 049 2471 (free to call) or email