Legal News

What is no-fault divorce?

Are you looking to get divorced? Our experienced Family Law Team will handle the entire process, keeping you updated on the progress throughout, leaving you to get on with life without unwanted stress.

Our solicitor Lauren Townson, and chartered legal executive Lyndsey Kiley lay out some important information about the new divorce law regulations which are set to enter a significant and historic change – and may affect you if you are entering the process yourself.

The present regulations

The current legislation dates back to 1973 and makes provision for a divorce to be obtained by way of irretrievable breakdown, proven by 1 of 5 facts:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • Two years’ separation with consent
  • Five years’ separation

Apart from five years’ separation, all other grounds require some form of co-operation from your estranged spouse which could often lead to delay in the divorce process. Further, adultery and unreasonable behaviour require blame to be attributed to one spouse, often resulting in unnecessary hostility and resentment.

A marriage breakdown is already a difficult period and the welcome change to the divorce law regulations should aid parties with their separation, as opposed to creating further animosity.

What is no-fault divorce?

In April 2022, much- awaited divorce law provisions come into force.  This new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020, brings about desperate modernisation of the current law.

The new guidelines will allow couples to divorce without assigning blame. It’s the biggest shake-up to divorce law provisions for more than 50 years.

The intention is to make divorce less acrimonious to enable you to move forward as constructively as possible.

The new regulations should provide the parties with additional time and resources to consider other aspects arising as a result of their marriage breakdown, such as the financial matters or the arrangements for the children.

Steps towards equality

The ground to commence divorce will be irretrievable breakdown and there will be no requirement to rely upon a fact. This is a significant step towards equality, as under the current law, same sex couples are not allowed to rely on adultery to prove an irretrievable breakdown, often having to rely on unreasonable behaviour instead.

With the new no-fault divorce however, there is no distinction between what same sex couples can rely on in comparison to what heterosexual couples can rely on.

The procedure for obtaining a divorce under the new provisions remains similar to the procedure under the current provisions – there is a *two-stage legal process which involves applying for the Conditional Order (previously known as the Decree Nisi) and then the Final Order (previously known as the Decree Absolute) and it will also be possible to submit a joint application. By allowing a joint application from both spouses, this again reinforces the step away from blame and acrimony, adopting a more conciliatory approach.

There will be a minimum timeframe of six months from issuing the petition to obtaining the Final Order.

What is of significant importance is that the new provisions remove the ability for a divorce to be contested, which has historically been a costly and complex process. The new provisions aim to remove acrimony, emotional distress and delay and are a welcomed by Marsden Rawsthorn.

How we can help

Our Family Law team is made up of Chartered Legal Executives Lyndsey Kiley and Amanda Long, Solicitor Lauren Townson and Paralegal Kimberley Emmett.

Whether your nearest office be Fulwood or Buckshaw Village, you can call 01772 799 600 to speak to any one of our Family team.

Article by Lauren Townson and Lyndsey Kiley

* A Decree Nisi is an interim order in the divorce process, giving notice of an impending divorce. The Decree Absolute is the final order, meaning a couple are divorced. These terms are due to be replaced with ‘Conditional Order’ and ‘Final Order’ respectively.

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