Conditional Order is a new term from the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 which came into force on 6 April 2022. This Act introduced the no fault divorce, replacing the previous divorce law which gave parties’ 5 grounds for a divorce. The no fault divorce allows parties to divorce without having to place blame on their former spouse to prove the irretrievable breakdown of their marriage.

Is a conditional order the same as a decree nisi?

This new law has introduced some new terminology into the divorce process. Under the old rules, the interim stage in the divorce was the pronouncement of the decree nisi. At this stage, the Court had the power to make an order in relation to the financial aspects of your separation. Within the no fault divorce there is no longer the divorce nisi. This has been replaced by a conditional order which has the same power but has a new name.

When can I apply for it?

There has also been a change in the new rules as to when you can apply for your conditional order. You are prevented from applying for the conditional order until 20 weeks has passed from the date of issue of the divorce application whereas previously you could apply for the decree nisi once the Respondent had submitted the acknowledgement of service form to the Court to confirm receipt of the divorce petition. At this point when the conditional order is pronounced, you are still married.

When shall I apply for a conditional order to be made final?

As with the previous divorce law, you still have to wait a period of 6 weeks before you can apply for the final order, previously known as the decree absolute. The final order will bring the marriage to an end. However, before applying for this, you should seek legal advice to check the implications of this as once your final order has been pronounced, you are no longer husband and wife which means you would not be entitled to the spousal element of the other party’s pension in the event of their death before the finances have been resolved.


If you would like to discuss your divorce, please get in touch with our Family team who would be happy to assist you.