Decree Nisi Law & Legal Definition


In divorce cases, a decree nisi is issued by the court to tell the parties that they have to wait a certain period of time before making their divorce final. This is to allow time for anyone who objects to the divorce to tell the court why they object. The decree nisi can often be set aside with mutual consent of the spouses. When the period expires, they can apply for the "decree absolute", which means the divorce is completed and the partners are no longer married. Some states grant divorces using decrees nisi. The following is an example of a state statute involving decrees nisi:

§ 554. Decrees nisi

(a) A decree of divorce from the bonds of matrimony in the first instance, shall be a decree nisi and shall become absolute at the expiration of three months from the entry thereof but, in its discretion, the court which grants the divorce may fix an earlier date upon which the decree shall become absolute. If one of the parties dies prior to the expiration of the nisi period, the decree shall be deemed absolute immediately prior to death.

(b) Either party may file any post-trial motions under the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure. The time within which any such motion shall be filed shall run from the date of entry of the decree of divorce and not from the date the nisi period expires. The court shall retain jurisdiction to hear and decide the motion after expiration of the nisi period. A decree of divorce shall constitute a civil judgment under the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure.

(c) If the stated term at which the decree nisi was entered has adjourned when a motion is filed, the presiding judge of the stated term shall have power to hear and determine the matter and make new decree therein as fully as the court might have done in term time; but, in the judge's discretion, the judge may strike off the decree and continue the cause to the next stated term.