Can I stop my ex-partner applying for the decree absolute?

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divorce and decree absolute
Usually the person who applies for the divorce, the petitioner, will want to apply for the decree absolute to bring the marriage to an end. However there may be some rare occasions when this will not be the case.

To instigate divorce proceedings the petitioner issues a divorce petition, and later applies for the decree nisi. This application can be made after the other spouse, the respondent,has confirmed receipt of the petition, or steps have been taken to prove service. This is when the court confirms you are entitled to be divorced. Six weeks and a day after the date of the decree nisi is the earliest date on which the Petitioner can apply for the decree absolute. If the Petitioner fails to apply, the respondent can do so three months and a day after the earliest date on which the Petitioner could have applied.

In the recent case of Thakkar v Thakkar [2016] EWHC 2488 the wife had petitioned for a divorce and had the decree nisi, and then the husband applied for the decree absolute. The wife opposed the pronouncement which would have ended the proceedings completely as she claimed the husband had undisclosed assets in the British Virgin Islands. The court dismissed the husband's application because if the wife became an ex-wife it would put her at risk as she would not be able to apply to vary a trust or enforce orders against offshore structures in the BVI.

The court affirmed that the decree absolute would normally be granted unless there were special circumstances for deferring it.

Whilst this situation is unusual, we have seen it on occasion, such as our client whose husband recently applied to the court for the grant of the decree absolute as he wanted to remarry. Our client had applied for the decree nisi and had it pronounced in 2006. We opposed this application on the basis that financial matters still needed to be resolved, and the husband has significant pensions which, as a spouse, our client would still benefit from. The judge accepted our arguments and refused to issue the decree absolute.  

In summary, a judge can prevent issuing the degree absolute in special circumstances.

For further information on issuing divorce proceedings, please contact the Blake Morgan family team.