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Decree Absolute – Celebration or commiseration?

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By Demelza Patricio

When people are going through divorce proceedings, they often think they cannot wait for decree absolute to be pronounced so that they are divorced and free of their ex. However, when you receive that piece of paper, your feelings can take you by surprise. You may have been waiting for years to pluck up the courage to end your marriage or you may have been suffering in a difficult or abusive situation. Nevertheless, that does not automatically mean you will feel like celebrating when you are told that the marriage is finally at an end, legally.

As a solicitor, I am very aware of the impact that pronouncement of decree absolute can have upon my clients, even if they are not fully prepared for it themselves. I try to always check with clients on the best way for them to receive the decree absolute – do they want an email, a letter or a phone call? A phone call may be a more gentle way of receiving the news but could come at an awkward time. An email may seem impersonal but can be opened at a time convenient to the recipient.

If you’re using the collaborative process you can decide together on how to deal with receiving decree absolute.

Many people report feeling sad when decree absolute is pronounced, regardless of whether they have been the person instigating the end of the relationship and petitioning for divorce or not. The pronouncement of decree absolute is symbolic of the end of the marriage which can feel like the end of an era or to some people may feel like a failure. Going through a divorce is like going through a bereavement and you can find yourself experiencing the same symptoms through the “grief cycle”.

For others, the pronouncement of decree absolute can seem very flat. For most people getting married is a very big occasion. There will be family and friends present and a big celebration. There will be photographs, speeches and presents to mark this momentous occasion. However, the notification that the marriage is ended is just a simply, very ordinary looking piece of paper sent through by a solicitor, without any kind of pomp or ceremony.

The difficulty can be compounded by not knowing when the decree absolute is going to be pronounced and then finding out it has actually been pronounced a few days before you become aware of this. There is almost always a delay between pronouncement of decree absolute and the court sending the document to the solicitor.

If you have not had the support of a counsellor or therapist when going through your divorce, it can be a good idea to contact one around the time decree absolute is pronounced to work through some of the feelings you may have had and to help towards moving towards acceptance or closure.

For more information about the divorce process please contact Demelza Patricio 01737 235616


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