What is a final order in England & Wales?
The ‘final order’ confirms that you are legally divorced (for married couples) or that your civil partnership has been dissolved (for civil partners) under English and Welsh law. This is the last stage of the legal process of divorce which takes a minium of seven months.
As of the introduction of no-fault divorce in England & Wales on the 6th of April 2022, couples can get divorced without needing to blame each other in the legal process. The final order was formerly known as the decree absolute in the previous system. In this blog, we have outlined the legal steps required for a divorce to be finalised.
You can find our full guide to No-fault divorce here or you can speak to one of our experts if you have any questions.
Step by step guide on how to apply
Step one: Apply for the divorce
You will need to submit either a joint or sole application for divorce. The court will check this and if satisfied with the information you have provided, will issue your divorce application. Once issued, the mandatory 20-week reflection period begins and if you’ve applied solely, a copy of your divorce application is sent to your ex.
Step two: 20-week ‘cooling-off’ period begins
You must wait for the 20-week reflection period to elapse before progressing further. This period has been built into the divorce process to enable couples to adjust to the news and to make any financial or children arrangements.
Step three: Apply for the conditional order
Once the 20-week reflection period has elapsed, and if you have applied jointly or if your ex has responded (for sole applications), you will be able to apply for the 'conditional order', which is the middle stage of the divorce process.
Step four: Your conditional order is granted
The court reviews your application and if satisfied that you are able to get divorced in England & Wales and all the information you have provided is correct, then the court will provide your 'certificate of entitlement' (to a divorce). This will state the date your conditional order will be pronounced at court – though neither you nor your partner are expected to attend the court hearing. Once a judge has pronounced your conditional order, the 6-week waiting period starts on the same day.
Step five: Apply for a consent order (this step is not mandatory)
As soon as you have received your conditional order certificate, you will be able to apply for a consent order. Many people are unaware that divorce alone doesn't end your financial relationship. In order to legalise your financial split and end the possibility of claims in the future you can submit a financial consent order to the court and have this granted by a Judge.
Step six: Apply for the final order
After the 6-week period has elapsed after the conditional order, you can apply for your final order. This was formerly known as the decree absolute and is the final stage of the process. Once granted (this takes 1-2 days), you will receive a final order certificate which confirms that your divorce has been finalised and you are free to re-marry if you wish.
How to apply for the final order?
If you started your divorce using the online system, you will be notified when you can apply for your final order. You will have to confirm that you want to apply for the final order and tick the statement of truth box to confirm that you are being truthful in your answer.
If you posted a paper divorce application to the court, you will need to print off a paper final order application and post it to the owning court. The paper route typically takes longer, however, all divorces will take a minimum of seven months to process under the new No-fault system due to the mandatory reflection periods.
As of the 6th of April 2022, couples can divorce or end their civil partnership using a no-fault system that has replaced the previous 'fault-based' system. We have written a complete guide to using the new system which walks you through the steps you need to take.
A divorce takes a minimum of 7 months in England and Wales due to the introduction of the mandatory 20-week 'reflection period', which was introduced as part of the change in divorce laws to a no-fault system.
The average cost of a divorce depends on various factors such as; which route you choose (DIY, mediation, solicitors or amicable), how much advice you'll need and how amicable your separation is. Read our guide for more information.