The courts have recently considered an application to convert the decree nisi to a decree absolute, and elected to refuse it, thereby preventing progression of a divorce. The case concerns Mr and Mrs Thakkar, following the breakdown of the their short marriage in 2013. Mrs Thakkar was eager to ensure that matters relating to the matrimonial finances were resolved, prior to the final steps being taken with her divorce.
In financial remedy proceedings running alongside the divorce, Mr Thakkar claimed to have assets of approximately £500,000. This wife argued that Mr Thakker had not complied with his obligations to provide full and frank disclosure. Mrs Thakkar claimed her husband was a billionaire, whose assets were held in complicated offshore structures in the British Virgin Islands.
Mrs Thakker obtained a decree nisi and contested her husband’s subsequent application for decree absolute. The judge considering the application decided to refuse the husband’s application, stating that by granting it, he would place Mrs Thakkar at considerable risk of prejudice. Whether Mrs Thakkar was the husband’s wife or ex-wife could make a significant difference under British Virgin Islands law, if she applied to vary a trust or enforce orders against the offshore structures, rather than applying for standard range of financial remedy orders.
Where a respondent, such as Mr Thakkar in this case, can apply for decree absolute (three months after the six week period after which the petitioner can first apply, i.e. three months and six weeks after the decree nisi is pronounced), the court may:
- Make decree nisi absolute.
- Rescind decree nisi.
- Require further inquiry.
- Otherwise deal with the application as it thinks fit.
It has long been established that a decree absolute may be obtained, unless there are special circumstances for deferring it. The court exercises its inherent jurisdiction and weighs the granting of the decree absolute against the special circumstances very heavily in favour of the grant. It is not a balancing exercise in the ordinary sense – deciding to refuse to progress a divorce is the exception, not the rule.
Contact us today on 01234 889777 and speak to one of our specialist solicitors to arrange a free consultation, to discuss your divorce and matrimonial finances. Hunter & Uro Solicitors are specialist family solicitors, serving Bedford, Northampton and the surrounding areas.