What Is a Rule Nisi in a Civil Case?

A rule nisi in a civil case is a form of contempt of court in which a party is required to show cause as to why he does not have to comply with past rulings ordered by a judge, states Riley Law Firm. Rule nisi is often used in civil cases, such as divorce, to compel one party to adhere to rulings regarding child custody, property and alimony.

For example, if the court ruled a property transfer to one party, and the other party refuses to obey, then the party awarded the property can file a rule nisi. This process orders the other party to appear in court and show cause for not transferring the property, explains Riley Law Firm.

Occasionally the court issues a rule nisi requiring each party to wait a certain amount of time before making their divorce final, notes USLegal. This time period allows those who wish to object to the divorce the opportunity to do so. In many instances, the rule is mutually agreed upon by both parties, so a decree absolute may be filed immediately after the allotted time to quickly finalize the divorce.

A rule nisi is separate from any other hearings and typically requires a filing fee. Once ordered, the other party is served papers, and a hearing is scheduled, points out Riley Law Firm. If the court rules that the opposing party has failed to show cause for not complying with previous court orders, the judge may take further action.