23/09/2021

The government has committed to the introduction of no fault divorce from 6 April 2022.

Campaigners, including many family lawyers, have long argued for an end to fault-based divorce, arguing that the breakdown of a marriage is generally the result of a number of factors and that to place blame at the door of one of the parties is harmful to families, as it encourages acrimonious separations.

It had originally been hoped that the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 would be implemented this year but the Ministry of Justice is now working on a launch date of 6 April 2022.

No fault divorce represents the biggest reform of divorce law for 50 years and there can be no doubt that the law as it currently stands is somewhat outdated.

The current system requires couples to rely on one of five facts as grounds for divorce – adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years’ separation with consent of both parties, or five years’ separation without consent.

However, from April next year, it will be possible for couples to instead provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown, which may be applied for solely or via a joint application. The ability to contest a divorce will also be more restricted.

Even the language that we use will change; Decree Nisi will become known as a ‘conditional order’ and Decree Absolute will be a ‘final order’. The ‘petitioner’ will become an ‘applicant’.

It is not anticipated that these changes will speed up the divorce process necessarily, but it should certainly simplify things and reduce the potential for conflict between couples.

This can only be a good thing in terms of minimising the negative impact that separation has on children and avoiding the stress of a contested divorce.

With more than six months to wait until the new approach is introduced, many couples will still have to rely on one of the five facts, but it would be sensible to consider dealing with issues now if your relationship has completely broken down, rather than wait for the introduction of a no fault divorce. We can help you work out what is best for your situation.

While the current system isn’t perfect, it is better than being locked inside a stressful and unhappy situation. A good solicitor can guide you through the divorce process and help you move on to a more positive future.

For advice about divorce or any aspect of family law, please phone Beswicks’ family team on 01782 205000 or email enquiry@beswicks.com. We offer one-hour fixed fee appointments for £100+vat or a more detailed consultation with a full written report for £250+vat.