removing fault from divorce

No Fault Divorce

No Fault Divorce

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No Fault Divorce has finally been introduced to the UK after years of campaigning by Resolution, the community of family justice professionals, and family lawyers, who welcome the change.

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act was passed by Parliament in 2020. The purpose of the Act is to remove fault from divorce, helping couples to separate and divorce without blaming each other.

I am particularly happy with the change. Removing fault from the divorce petition, the first stage of the divorce process, should reduce the animosity and help divorcing couples have a good divorce.

Family Lawyer Consultation with client

This is certainly how I prefer to act for my clients during a divorce. However, I do acknowledge, and regularly come across situations when it is necessary to take a firmer approach. In any event, I am confident that the Act, once implemented, will reduce conflict allowing couples to agree child-focused arrangements and fair financial settlements.

In my view, the change will also help if you are unsure about starting divorce proceedings. You may consider speaking to a family lawyer and/or initiating the process sooner. This is because you no longer need to worry about what you have said about your spouse in your divorce petition and how they might react. For more information about starting divorce proceedings, read my article here.

The Current Law

Currently there is one ground for divorce, the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. You must rely on one of the five following facts:

  • Adultery
  • Behaviour
  • Desertion – 2 years
  • 2 years’ separation with consent
  • 5 years’ separation

If you have not been separated for more than 2 years then you are left with two options. If adultery is not applicable then you must rely on behaviour. This is the fact that requires you to blame your spouse. Whilst the types of behaviour can be mild, this can sometimes not be enough to satisfy the court. The recent case of Owens v Owens 2018, where Mrs Owens was not permitted to divorce her husband because her behaviour examples were considered too flimsy, highlighted how out of date the law relating to divorce is.

What does No Fault mean for Divorce?

The Act will make the following changes to the current law:

  • The five facts above will be replaced with a statement to show the irretrievable breakdown
  • The other party will not be able to contest the divorce
  • It will provide an option for a joint application
  • They will remove old fashioned legal terms with plain English
  • Decree Nisi will be called a conditional order and Decree Absolute will be called a final order

When does No Fault Divorce start?

The government is still working on the implementation. It is hoped that you will be able to start your no fault divorce in Autumn 2021 or the beginning of 2022.

Can I have a good divorce before No Fault Divorce starts?

Absolutely! I actively encourage it. Having a good divorce is largely reliant on how you and your spouse approach the divorce. It is also important to engage a divorce lawyer who shares your approach. The current divorce procedure should be used to have a good divorce if you cannot wait until the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022 to start divorce proceedings.

If you need help with your divorce or if would like to make an initial consultation to speak to me about your divorce.

Do call me on 0203 916 5585 or

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Posted by admin in Divorce