The End of the Blame Game? Key Changes to Divorce Law in the UK

27 April 2022

On 6 April 2022, the UK introduced the long-awaited No-Fault Divorce. The No-Fault Divorce has replaced previous legislation and allows couples to end their marriages or civil partnerships in a more amicable, uncontested way, without any blame.

How does the No-Fault Divorce differ from previous legislation?

Prior to April 6th 2022, the party applying for the divorce had to justify the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage by satisfying one of five grounds. These grounds were adultery, unreasonable behaviour, 2 years separation with consent, 5 years separation, and desertion. The former three grounds required the consent of the other party and therefore gave them the ability to potentially impede the divorce from progressing.

The greatest benefit of the No-Fault Divorce is the removal of blame. Divorces can be emotional, lengthy, and costly, and can often cause more animosity between the parties. The No-Fault Divorce, therefore, offers a smoother, simplified way to get divorced, without the added stresses, costs or complications.

Who can apply for a No-Fault Divorce?

You can apply for a No-Fault Divorce by yourself as a sole applicant or jointly with your spouse as joint applicants, as long as your marriage is one which can be dealt with by UK jurisdiction.

Is there a benefit to applying as joint applicants?

The benefit of applying jointly with your spouse is that it can remove the potential imbalance of one party leaving the other, and thus could encourage a more amicable split.

How long will it take?

The No-Fault Divorce will take around six months from beginning to end.

Once an application for divorce has been made, there is an obligatory 20-week reflection period before you can apply for a Conditional Order (previously known as Decree Nisi). There is then another six-week period between the Conditional Order and the application for a Final Order (previously known as Decree Absolute).

Do I need to prove anything when applying for a No-Fault Divorce?

The statement confirming the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, which is signed when applying, is considered conclusive evidence and does not need to be justified.

My spouse does not want a divorce. Can he contest my No-Fault Divorce application?

No consent is required from your spouse and the ability to contest a divorce has been removed. Therefore, your spouse does not need to be in agreement with the divorce and cannot contest it once you have applied.

What about my finances?

Financial matters stemming from divorce are dealt with separately from the divorce itself. Please read our blogs on Financial Matters and Prenuptial/Postnuptial Agreements for more information.

What about our children?

Child matters stemming from divorce are dealt with independently from the divorce. Please read our blog on Child Arrangements for more information.

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