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Rule Nisi (Legal Definition And What You Must Know)

What is a Rule Nisi?

How do you legally define it?

What are the essential elements you should know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let’s dig into our legal dictionary!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

What Is A Rule Nisi

A Rule Nisi is an order from the court or ruling that will take effect and come into force at a future date provided certain conditions have been met.

Rule Nisi can also be viewed as a court order to “show cause”.

In other words, unless you can show cause, the court order, rule, or decree will take effect and become legally binding.

The word “Nisi” in Latin means “Unless”.

This is appropriate in the circumstances as a rule becomes a decree absolute (or rule absolute) “unless” a party is able to show cause.

Rule Nisi Definition

How do you define Rule Nisi?

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of Rule Nisi is as follows:

A rule or order upon condition that is to become absolute unless cause is shown to the contrary

The definition can be broken down into its components.

A Rule Nisi is:

  • An order of the court
  • Will become absolute based on the materialization of certain conditions
  • Unless a party can show cause 


The purpose of a Rule Nisi is to allow the parties to think of the matter and give them the opportunity to be heard in case they have any objections.

For example, in Georgia, you can serve a party in a family case with a Rule Nisi.

GA Code § 19-6-28 (2015) states:

(b) In any proceeding to enforce a temporary or permanent grant of alimony or child support by attachment for contempt, the petitioner may serve the motion and rule nisi by mailing a copy of the motion and rule nisi by first-class mail, postage prepaid, to the respondent at the respondent’s last known address together with two copies of a notice and acknowledgment conforming substantially to the form specified in subsection (c) of this Code section and a return envelope, postage prepaid, addressed to the sender. 

As a result, in child support and child custody cases, a party can be served with a Rule Nisi prior to a temporary hearing.

The objective of Rule Nisi is to ensure that the other party is given proper notice of hearing so he or she can prepare for the hearing.

Rule Nisi Example

Let’s look at some examples of the application of the “Nisi” rule.

Rule Nisi Divorce

In divorce cases, the court will typically render a divorce judgment that will take effect at a future date unless the parties can show sufficient cause for the decree not to take effect.

If the parties do not come with an objection during the “wait” period, then the court decree will become legally binding.

For example, in Vermont, based on 15 V.S.A. § 554, the court may render a Decree Nisi (a decree of divorce) in the first instance and it shall become absolute after the passing of 90 days from the entry of the order.

Rule Nisi Hearing

In Georgia, a Rule Nisi is issued before a temporary hearing to deal with matters having to do with a divorce.

A Rule Nisi hearing in divorce can be viewed as temporary hearings (or motion hearings) where the parties submit important aspects that need to be resolved in the short term.

For example, in Georgia, a Rule Nisi is issued before a temporary hearing for issues relating to the divorce case.

For instance, if a party serves another with papers for a temporary hearing, they can also serve a Rule Nisi.

If you are served with a Rule Nisi, you must consult with an attorney to understand your rights and you should attend the hearing scheduled. 


So what is the legal definition of Rule Nisi?

What does Rule Nisi mean?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Rule Nisi Meaning

  • A Rule Nisi is an order of the court, a decree or a ruling where a party is given time to object and show cause without which the ruling will become absolute and legally binding 
  • In the case of a divorce decree, the court may render a divorce judgment where the judgment becomes absolute at a future date
  • The purpose is to allow the parties time to consider their options, prepare, or raise any objections they may have against the decree or ruling 
Court order
Court terms 
Divorce certificate 
Divorce decree 
Mortgage enforcement 
Nisi Hearing 
Nisi Petition 
Rule in Heydon’s Case
Rule in Queen Caroline’s Case
Rule in Shelley’s Case
Rule in Wild’s Case
Rule Making
Rule of adjunction 
Rule of Capture
Rule of Completeness
Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!


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