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What is a no-fault divorce?

Published on 6 October 2021 | Modified on 16 January 2023

Written by Lana Jones

Divorce & Family

Divorce proceedings are set to dramatically change from next April, with the introduction of the ‘no-fault divorce’. This means that couples will no longer have to place blame on one party for the dissolution of a marriage or civil partnership, a requirement that has been heavily criticised as out of date by legal professionals for many years.

Introduced in the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, changes were set to come into force in Autumn 2021, however this has now been pushed back to April 2022, after the government admitted that it would be unable to meet its original implementation date.

What is changing in divorce law?

The new legislation will bring in a whole host of changes to existing divorce law. Changes will include:

Enable couples to apply jointly for a divorce

Currently, one party must issue divorce proceedings against the other.

Replace the ‘five facts’ in divorce

In order to divorce, couples must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, providing one of the following five facts as the reason:

  1. Adultery
  2. Unreasonable behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. Two years’ separation (with consent from the other party)
  5. Five years’ separation (without consent from the other party)

Contesting the divorce will no longer be possible

At the moment, the petitioner in a divorce will provide a reason for the breakdown of the marriage, however their spouse can contest this, leading to delays and increased costs and animosity for both parties.

Adjust language used in divorce law

The new legislation will amend key terms in divorce law to ensure the language is plain English. For example, ‘decree nisi’ will change to ‘conditional order’ and ‘decree absolute’ will now be known as ‘final order’. This brings the terminology used in line with dissolution proceedings.

Our team of divorce solicitors will always encourage divorcing couples to maintain a non-confrontational and pragmatic approach to resolving the divorce proceedings, however the requirement to place blame on one party can often enflame the situation, unless the proceedings are carefully managed.

The introduction of the ‘no-fault’ divorce, therefore, will provide separating couples the opportunity to heed the advice of legal professionals and keep the entire divorce process as amicable as possible.

If you are considering initiating divorce proceedings, would like to understand more about the process and how Poole Alcock Family Law can support you, please get in touch today.

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