No fault divorce is now in effect in England and Wales as of 6th April 2022. Here we look at what no fault divorce is, what it means for you, and what the implications of the UK divorce law reforms are.
What is No Fault Divorce?
No Fault Divorce will allow couples to divorce in an amicable manner, without the need for one spouse to blame the other. However, this also means that spouses will not be able to contest the divorce, apart from on grounds such as coercion and fraud. This change will also apply to civil partnership dissolution.
Why does no fault divorce matter?
This is one of the biggest changes to divorce law in almost 50 years, outdating a lot of previous legislation. The most important element of no fault divorce is the removal of fault or blame from the divorce process. Under the new law, couples will be able to get divorced solely on the basis that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.
When does no fault divorce come in, and can you get a no fault divorce in the UK?
Yes. As of 6th April 2022 no fault divorce has been introduced in England and Wales.
How does no fault divorce work?
Under the previous law, one spouse needs to issue divorce proceedings against the other. The person who starts the divorce was called the petitioner and the other person was called the respondent. Under the no fault divorce system, both people will be able to make the application jointly and will be able to get divorced solely on the basis that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, without needing to cite fault or blame.
How long does no fault divorce take?
A minimum timeframe of 20 weeks is being introduced between the application and the conditional order, to counter concerns that the reforms will now make divorce too quick and easy. This timeframe will give couples an opportunity to reflect and work through their differences before committing to a divorce.
There will then be a minimum 6 week period following the conditional order before the applicant can apply for the final order. In most cases, this 6 week period will be extended to deal with outstanding financial matters.
Another option for couples is to enter into a separation agreement, which is a written agreement outlining the terms of the separation. A separation agreement will not end the marriage, but it can enable both people to agree on the terms of the separation and can be completed in a quicker timeframe than divorce or no fault divorce. A separation agreement is very different from divorce and you should therefore speak to your lawyer about whether such an agreement would be suitable in your specific case.
Can a no fault divorce be contested?
No. Under the new no fault divorce process the option to contest will be removed. Proceedings can be disputed on limited grounds, such as jurisdictional issues.
Once the no fault divorce has started there is a 20 week timeframe that gives couples time to reflect before it comes into force. This window allows the no fault divorce to be dopped if the couple wishes to remain together.
Will no fault divorce be cheaper?
Not always. At Tozers we have fixed fee rates for divorce and the court charge a standard fee in all new divorce cases.
Advantages of no fault divorce
There are many advantages to no fault divorce, including;
- It allows couples to divorce in an amicable manner, without the need for blame
- It can help with the emotional and mental trauma of divorce proceedings
- It can help couples negotiate all aspects of the divorce, including assets and child care
- It can take less time than a standard divorce
- It helps empower people who may have previously feared divorce and the divorce system
Disadvantages of no fault divorce
- An easier way of divorce may make people may give less thought to the consequences of marriage
- It isn’t always cheaper
Find out more
If things start to go wrong in family life, we know that it can be a difficult and emotional time. To find out more about divorce or separation visit our dedicated family law page, or book a free initial conversation with one of our expert family lawyers. Whatever stage you’re at, we’ll be there to support you through it all.