The Arrival of No Fault Divorce in the UK

We specialise in family law at Higgins Miller, and that means helping people to deal with extremely stressful situations such as adoption, handling wills and probate and children disputes. The help we provide combines empathetic support and understanding with expert knowledge of the law as it applies to every case. Our commitment to providing expert advice means that we take great pride in always remaining completely up to date with any changes in the law, and this applies to our understanding of the change which is coming in the shape of a no fault divorce. 

The concept of a no fault divorce – in which the parties don’t have to come up with grounds for divorce as is currently the case – is one which has been discussed for quite some time. Bodies such as the Law Society have recommended the introduction of a no fault divorce as a means of simplifying the process and removing much of the stress and conflict so often involved. Although it was assumed that a no fault divorce would be enshrined in law in the latter half of 2021, the government announced on June 8th 2021 that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 (often referred to as the no fault divorce act) will come into force on 6th April 2022. Although the timing of the introduction of a no fault divorce option may be disappointing for some people, the announcement is at least a confirmation that the change is coming, and that legal experts such as those working at Higgins Miller, and people considering ending their marriage, need to understand exactly how a no fault divorce will work.

The chief impact of a no fault divorce law is that couples wishing to be divorced will no longer have to be separated for at least two years or, failing that, have proof that one party is at fault in a specific manner. In addition to this, a no fault divorce will be open to just one partner, who will be able to bring the marriage to an end without their spouse being able to refuse.

As things stand, prior to the introduction of a no fault divorce law, anyone seeking to end a marriage will need to be able to demonstrate grounds for divorce such as adultery, unreasonable behaviour and desertion. If no such grounds apply, but both partners agree that they want to bring the marriage to an end, they have to wait two years to finalise the divorce. If only one partner wishes to divorce, and the other partner doesn’t consent, this waiting period is extended to 5 years. Clearly, this situation imposes a large emotional strain on the parties involved, and the option of a no fault divorce will lift much of that strain by streamlining and simplifying the process.

Another aspect of the no fault divorce law which is worth noting is that it will not allow a divorce process to be concluded in less than 26 weeks. The current system might sometimes allow a divorce to be processed in slightly less time than this, but a timetable of less than four months is still fairly unusual, even without allowing for the time taken to resolve any financial issues. This means that the timeframe for the no fault divorce – despite the nickname of ‘quickie divorce’ – is approximately the same as for a divorce under the existing system, once the initial application has been made. This fixed timescale has been built into the system so that couples – even those opting for a no fault divorce – have the time to think about their decision to divorce and decide whether it’s one which they ultimately still wish to take.      

If you want to ask about a no fault divorce please call us on 0161 429 7251 or email us at [email protected] We’ve recently passed our Cyber Essential accreditation, something which demonstrates our forward-thinking attitude and determination to remain ahead of the competition. The first 20-minute appraisal is provided free of charge, and we’ll give you the first appointment for a fixed fee, so you don’t have to worry about how much our advice is going to cost. If you want to explore our wider charging system then please take a look here.

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July 20, 2021

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