What does the legal term "decree nisi" mean?


Quick Answer

A "decree nisi", or "order nisi," is a provisional court order that becomes valid by a certain date if none of the affected parties gives a reason to withdraw it, notes The Law Dictionary. The word "nisi" comes from Latin and means "unless." If the date passes without complaint from either party, then the decree becomes absolute.

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Full Answer

A decree nisi typically occurs in the United States during divorce proceedings, notes USLegal. The court issues the order with a period of time the couple must wait before making the divorce final. This gives both spouses time to object to the divorce, if they wish to do so. If the date passes without objection, the couple can apply for a decree absolute to finalize the divorce and end the marriage.

One state that uses decrees nisi for divorce cases is Vermont. Vermont law states that when a couple wants to divorce, the court orders a decree nisi with a maximum time of three months, states USLegal. If no one objects during that time, or if one spouse dies, the divorce becomes final. If someone wants to legally object to the divorce, the party must file a post-trial motion with the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure.

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