What is a Decree Absolute?


“I’ve got my Decree Absolute. Is that really the end?” Resolving the finances in a divorce


Divorce can be a difficult and emotional process. Once the Decree Absolute is pronounced people feel a rightful sense of relief. A relief that the process is over, that they are free to marry again and that they do not have to deal with their spouse again. But is it really the end?

What many people do not know is that years later their spouse could apply to the Court for a Financial Order. The Decree Absolute ends the marriage but it does not end the financial ties between spouses.


Why do spouses choose not to resolve their finances? For some, they think it is too expensive, for others – too stressful. You might have reached an agreement between you both over finances, it might even be amicable but it’s not legally binding. Whatever the reason without a Court Order in place, you’re still at risk of a claim for a financial order from your former spouse.

You may think you do not need an order because you have no savings or income to protect. However, years down the line, your financial circumstances may have improved. For example, you may be receiving a better wage or you may have received an inheritance. You might even win the lottery and find yourself having to pay money to your ex. This is what happened to Mr Nigel Page. Mr Page won £56 million but made an out of court settlement payment of £2 million to his ex wife who had left him 10 years ago. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1331925/Lottery-winner-Nigel-Page-pay-ex-wife-2m-left-10-years-ago.html)


This is why Courmacs recommend that clients applying for a divorce also obtain a Court Order.
How does this happen? Once arrangements over all the finances (the house, pensions, savings, maintenance etc) are agreed this can be set out in a draft Consent Order. It’s known as a Consent Order because everything has been agreed. This is forwarded to the Court, a Judge reads and approves the document provided it is ‘reasonable.’ The Court Order becomes enforceable once the decree absolute has been pronounced. That’s when you can really feel a sense of relief. That’s when it is really the end.
Sometimes you can get a ‘Clean Break’ consent order. This means that the financial responsibilities you and your spouse have towards each other comes to an end. E.g. there is no obligation to pay spousal maintenance.


At Courmacs we are here to help you right from negotiating an agreement over finances to obtaining a Court Order as well as preparing your divorce. We always recommend obtaining a Court Order over finances as well as a divorce because we want to protect your finances.
Remember that Courmacs can also help you with updating your wills once you’re divorced.

Article disclaimer

This article is for general information only and does not constitute specific advice.  You should not rely on the information in this article.  Courmacs Solicitors recommends that you seek our specific advice if you wish to rely on the any part of this article.  Whilst Courmacs makes every effort to ensure that the article is accurate, Courmacs excludes all liability for claim, loss, demands or damages of any kind whatsoever (whether such claims, loss, demands or damages were foreseeable, known or otherwise) arising out of or in connection with the use of this article or any other information contained on this website.  Any information provided only applies to England and Wales.

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