No-Fault Divorce

2022 sees a huge shake-up in the divorce laws in England & Wales. After decades of debate and campaigning, a ‘no-fault divorce’ process is finally in place. This is intended to simplify divorce proceedings by removing some of the potential for conflict between couples while encouraging dialogue and possible reconciliation.

What were the old divorce laws?

The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 set out the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as the only reason for a divorce. There were five grounds to establish that this was the case. These were:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two-year separation with consent
  • Five-year separation

It would need to be proven that one partner was at fault for the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage based on one of the above grounds. In practice, this meant one partner had to blame the other, even in circumstances where the couple had simply grown apart, creating a significant risk of conflict.

Alternatively, they would have to separate for two years before being granted a divorce, making it difficult for both parties to move on with their lives.

How will no-fault divorce work in practice?

The Divorce, Dissolution & Separation Bill retains irretrievable breakdown of the marriage as the sole ground for divorce. However, it will remove the five grounds for divorce with applicants only needing to submit a Statement of Irretrievable Breakdown.

Both parties will now be able to make a joint application which is hoped will create the conditions for a completely amicable separation. Single applications will still be accepted. Whereas the old system required one party to be blamed for the breakdown, the new process removes the need for blame.

Outdated terms will also be removed from the divorce process. ‘Decree Nisi’ will become known as a ‘Conditional Order’, and ‘Decree Absolute’ will be known as a ‘Final Order’. The Final Order will formally dissolve the marriage. The person or persons who start the divorce proceedings will be known as the applicant, replacing the old term ‘petitioner’.

The intention throughout is to simplify the divorce process while creating better conditions to reach an agreement over finances, childcare and other shared responsibilities.

Can you contest a no-fault divorce?

 The old divorce law allowed the party who was deemed to be at fault for the divorce to contest the issue. This could result in lengthy disputes which could grow acrimonious as well as costly, with detrimental consequences for any children.

The new law removes the ability for one party to contest the divorce meaning that divorce will automatically be granted after the minimum waiting period has passed.

What about financial commitments?

 A couple’s financial commitments to each other will not automatically be ended by the no-fault divorce process. This means it’s important for the parties to discuss their financial arrangements and reach an agreement over any shared responsibilities. This will reduce the risk of disputes and financial claims against the other after the divorce has been finalised.

Confidential advice and support

At Mandla Bhomra & Co, we understand that divorce is a stressful and emotional process. Our experienced team of divorce solicitors can provide confidential advice and support wherever you are in the divorce process.

Whether you’ve reached the stage of making an application, are considering your options or would like to learn more about the new divorce process, then we can help. We can also help you negotiate some of the financial and practical arrangements for your separation.

Call 0121 523 3384 or email to find out more.

Written By

Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhomra

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