- Abstract We study the decay of a prepared state into non-flat continuum. We find that the survival probability P (t) might exhibit either stretched-exponential or power-law decay, depending on non-universal features of the model. Still there is a universal characteristic time t 0 that does not depend on the functional form. It is only for a flat continuum that we get a robust exponential decay that is insensitive to the nature of the intra-continuum couplings. The analysis highlights the co-existence of perturbative and non-perturbative features in the local density of states, and the nonlinear dependence of 1/t 0 on the strength of the coupling.