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The FindLaw Legal Dictionary -- free access to over 8260 definitions of legal terms. Search for a definition or browse our legal glossaries.



decree n

[Old French decré, from Latin decretum, from neuter of decretus, past participle of decernere to decide]
1 : an order having the force of law [by judicial ]
2 : a judicial decision esp. in an equity or probate court
: judgment [divorce ] [interlocutory ]

consent decree
: a decree entered by a court that is determined by the parties' agreement
: a settlement between the parties that is subject to judicial approval and supervision
: such a decree by which the accused agrees to cease alleged illegal activities without admitting guilt

decree nisi
pl: decrees nisi
: a provisional decree that will become final unless cause is shown why it should not NOTE: Some states grant divorces using decrees nisi. The decree nisi creates a time period (as of 3 months) allowing for possible reconciliation or for completion of various arrangements (as custody).

decree pro con·fes·so
: a decree entered by a court based on a defendant's default and the presumption that the allegations are confessed compare default judgment at judgment

final decree
: a decree that disposes of an action by determining all matters in dispute including esp. the parties' rights compare final judgment at judgment

interlocutory decree
: a decree that is made during the course of an action and that does not settle all matters in dispute
decree vb

Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

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