What is the “No Fault” Divorce?

Under the previous law, if a party to a marriage wishes to get divorced, and they have not been separated for at least two years, they must “blame” the other party for the breakdown of the marriage.  They can do this by either citing the adultery or the unreasonable behaviour of the other party to the marriage.

The new law removes the requirement for fault or blame from the divorce process.

When did the no fault divorce come into effect?

The new law come into effect on 6th April 2022.

Why has the law changed?

There have been campaigns to change the law for many years because arguably it is outdated and can create unnecessary animosity and upset by forcing one party to blame the other for the breakdown of a marriage.

Quite often, couples simply drift apart and fall out of love with each other without either party having acted unreasonably or having committed adultery.  This can leave one party, or often both parties, in a position where they either need to remain married to each other for a further two years and therefore unable to move on, or forced to blame the other party in order for the petition to proceed.

How does the new “No Fault” Divorce differ to the previous law on Divorce?

  • Some of the language is being updated, for example the Decree Nisi will become a Conditional Order and the Decree Absolute will become a Final Order.
  • There is a new 20 week period from the date of the divorce application to when the Conditional Order can be made in order to give couples additional time to ensure they wish to proceed.
  • It will no longer be possible to contest that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down.
  • Couples will be able to apply for a divorce together.

What remains the same?

The divorce process will still have the two key stages of Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute, however they will now be called the Conditional Order and Final Order.

What are the benefits of a “No Fault” Divorce

  • Removing the requirement for blame will mean less conflict and stress.
  • The process should be more streamlined and straightforward.
  • It can be a joint application.

Do I still need a Solicitor to act on my behalf?

It is always advisable to seek the advice of an experienced Family Solicitor on separation.  Not only will this ensure that the applications are completed correctly, to avoid any difficulties or delays, but more importantly when it comes to the financial aspect of the separation.

Formally ending the divorce will not automatically trigger the procedure for dealing with the financial aspect of the separation.  Expert legal advice is therefore required to ensure that both your interim financial and long term financial needs are met.

It is also important to remember that even whether the Final Order in respect of the divorce has been made, this does not prevent parties from making claims against each other’s income, assets or pensions in the future.  In order to do this, there needs to be a clean break Order, which is not automatically made at the time of divorce.

If you require any advice or assistance in relation to divorce and financial matters, please contact us to arrange an appointment.