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New law: New ‘no-fault’ divorce laws will not apply until at least Autumn 2021

A spouse or civil partner waiting to divorce, dissolve their civil partnership or legally separate under new ‘no-fault’ laws must now wait until Autumn of 2021, at the earliest, before they can do so, even though the relevant Act of Parliament will shortly be given Royal Assent.

Under the new laws, an individual spouse or civil partner, or the two together, will be able to apply for a divorce or dissolution, or legally separate, without having to show one of the five situations that they currently have to show. These include ‘unreasonable behaviour’ by one of them, adultery, or that they have lived separately for two or five years (depending on the circumstances). If only one applies for a divorce or dissolution the other will no longer be allowed to ‘defend’ the application as they can now.

However, there will be a ‘cooling-off’ period of 26 weeks when they can change their minds before their divorce becomes final.

Operative date

  • Autumn 2021


  • An individual contemplating divorce may wish to put their plans on hold until new ‘no-fault divorce’ rules are brought in from, at the earliest, autumn 2021.

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