New ‘No Fault Divorce’ Law

From 6 April 2022 couples will finally be able to divorce without laying blame on either party. This change will also be implemented for civil partnerships.

The importance of this new legislation is, of course, the removal of fault or blame from the divorce process. As a family practitioner, I will often meet with a client who is initially on amicable terms with their spouse during an extremely difficult time but will then receive a list of their ‘unreasonable behaviour’ which unnecessarily upsets and enflames the situation. Under the new laws, couples will no longer need to cite one of the 5 reasons for divorce and can instead rely solely on the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage and neither parties’ fault.

Former President of the Supreme Court, Baroness Hale, has been an advocate for the introduction of no-fault divorce in the UK as a way to try and ease the pain of divorcing couples. This has been supported by some senior members of the Judiciary, Resolution (the national organisation of family lawyers) and various newspaper companies. Contrary to this view, some people have opposed the introduction of no-fault divorce as they consider it is making divorce too easy for couples instead of trying to work through the marriage. Nevertheless, the new laws are being introduced.

Another new introduction under the law will be that both parties can apply for a divorce jointly. This will mean that both parties can be Applicants.

Timescales for divorces will also change and there will be a minimum of 20 weeks between the divorce application and the Conditional Order (formerly known as a Decree Nisi.) This has been introduced as a ‘period of reflection’ to provide parties with the opportunity to reconcile if appropriate or possible. There will then be a minimal period of 6 weeks between Conditional Order and Final Order (formerly known as A Decree Absolute.)

Under the current divorce laws, a respondent has the ability to a defend the divorce. Under the new system this option will be removed.

The current fees for applying for a divorce is £593. The Law Society have called for the Courts to reduce this fee to reflect the reduction of admin costs the new online divorce system has been introduced.

Forrester Sylvester Mackett supports the introduction to no-fault divorce as it benefits couples where there is no conflict and have simply drifted apart but it will also benefit couples where there is conflict and seek to not enflame that conflict.

Forrester Sylvester Mackett offer free initial appointments so if you would like to speak to one of our family practitioners, please contact one of our offices.

Naomi Corp. Paralegal, Family Law Department,  Forrester Sylvester Mackett, Trowbridge.



The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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