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Applying for the decree absolute It is a straightforward process to obtain a decree absolute.
A single sheet application in a standard form is signed and handed in to the court office, together with a fee of £40.
Decree absolute and the law In the case of Miller Smith v Miller Smith (No 2) (2009 EWHC3623), a case on which I have posted before, my firm represented the husband.
The Court held that the husband, who was also seeking his decree absolute, was entitled to it unless the wife “could show special circumstances to defer it”. Citing Dart, Mr Justice Baker held that the power to delay decree absolute “is an exercise of discretion of the trial judge but that exercise of discretion weights the granting of the decree absolute against the special circumstances very heavily in favour of the grant.
He made reference to the statutory powers that the court has, outlining the circumstances in which the court “shall not” or “may” make a decree absolute under sections 8-10A of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
These include delaying decree absolute until financial provision has been made in certain divorces which are proceeding on a separation basis, and delaying decree absolute when a religious divorce is required to be put in place first.
After considering the statutory powers and following legal argument from both sides, His Lordship also found that there is an “inherent jurisdiction” of the High Court to delay making a decree absolute in appropriate cases.
The case of England v England (1980) 10 Family Law 86 was a Court of Appeal decision where the court delayed decree absolute until a maintenance order had been made in favour of the children.