No Fault Divorce

What is a No Fault Divorce?

The aim of the No Fault Divorce is to enable you to end a marriage without the need to play the ‘blame game’. The Justice Secretary, MP Robert Buckland,  hopes that this will  “spare” families. It is hoped that the new system will be launched in Autumn 2021.

What is the current divorce system?

The divorce system in England and Wales currently requires one spouse to start the process of filing for divorce. This means that either you or your spouse has to provide a reason for wanting a divorce. There are three reasons to choose from:

  • Adultery,
  • Unreasonable behaviour,
  • Desertion.

A fault-based system requires evidence of guilt from one party. If neither party is able to do so then you must live separately for two years so that the marriage can be dissolved. If one partner contests the divorce then it will be a minimum of five years before you’ll be considered eligible for divorce.

Separation-based arrangements are effectively unavailable to those who cannot afford to run two households before resolving their financial arrangements.

How will no-fault divorce change that?

  • The new law will mean that instead of having to attribute blame for the breakdown of the relationship, a couple can mutually cite ‘irretrievable breakdown’ as the sole grounds for wanting to divorce.
  • This can be done in a joint statement or by an individual. Either spouse will be able to provide a statement saying it has broken down without having to provide evidence about bad behaviour.

Why does no-fault divorce matter?

  • It should avoid further bad feeling between couples, which your family and your children have to deal with.
  • Even if things have been relatively amicable, the process of having to apportion blame can turn things sour pretty quickly.
  • Research from Relate shows that conflict between parents is the most damaging thing for children during divorce proceedings.
  • It will also stop domestic abusers trapping a spouse in a marriage for five years, by contesting it.


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