Latin Legal Terms


Decretum – this Latin noun literally means a decree, judgment, edict or precept. In other words - an official document, usually issued by court of Law, which document obliges the recipients to perform certain acts or to follow particular behavior in the future. Otherwise they may be sanctioned by the authority which has issued the decretum. In the legal practice, the word refers to the term “decree nisi”, which in the sphere of Family Law details an order by the court in divorce cases. This order orders to the participants to wait for expiration of certain deadlines, before their marriage is finally and officially dissolved. The goal is to allow a term in which third interested parties to be able to object to the divorce. So once the above detailed deadlines are over, then the court usually issues an order called “decree absolute”, which officially proclaims the marriage is over and the parties are legally divorced from now on. The original of the decretum should be kept by the recipient in a safe place because he/she may need to present it if they ever decide to marry again or need to prove the divorce for some other reason. Courts use to issue certified copies, but against fee.

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