The term “final decree” is usually used in legal documents and proceedings; thus, a final decree is essentially the final judgment passed during a court case. It usually proceeds after an interlocutory decree, which is a temporary order.
A final decree exists in various forms: consent decree, absolute decree, and nisi decree. Consent decrees are settlements agreed to by both parties in a court case and signed by the judge, while absolute decrees are conclusive decrees that can only by entered by the court when the proposed final decree, or nisi decree, has passed through a time period in which both parties or the defending party can convince the court that a decree is no longer necessary.
Final decrees are usually passed by judges in matters of criminal or family law, such as divorce court cases. An interlocutory or nisi decree occurs in a divorce case when a specified period of time is allotted before finalizing the divorce in order to allow for possible reconciliation between the parties involved. A final decree is then passed after the time period has elapsed so as to conclude the divorce. Thus, the final decree acts as a concluding and definitive judgment in court cases.
Only when legal proceedings are done can a final decree be handed out in a case. Such a decree is binding to both parties, and can only be reviewed if at least one party can prove that there was lack of consent, fraud was involved in obtaining consent, or there was an occurrence of mutual error. Unless the aforementioned conditions are met, the final decree remains intact and absolute.