The Final Countdown to No-Fault Divorce

divorce law

With the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 coming into force on April 6th 2022, introducing no-fault divorce in England and Wales, people are asking what now for those seeking a divorce this year?

To put things simply, the new legislation will mean that unhappy couples will now be able to get a divorce without the need to place blame on the other party. It is seen as a welcome move by couples seeking to have as much of a pain-free divorce as possible, and the many family law firms tasked with trying to keep divorce proceedings calm and civil.

A no-fault divorce will undoubtedly help divorces be far less contentious. However, divorcing couples are still advised to seek help and support from a family lawyer to ensure their divorce goes as smoothly as possible.

Long-awaited overhaul 

The current divorce laws in England and Wales are over half a century old and no longer reflect our modern relationships. The new no-fault divorce option will help bring our divorce laws more in line with other countries that have long had a more progressive attitude towards marriage and divorce.

Currently, a couple that wishes to divorce requires evidence on one of five grounds, namely: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years’ separation, five years’ separation or desertion.

The divorce process can be very fraught, with many allegations being made or waiting around for years before the divorce can be fully resolved. This means that even couples with a reasonably friendly relationship can see that quickly deteriorate under the pressure of current divorce rules.

Divorce negotiations can also be adversely affected with little chance of parties amicably agreeing on settlement terms, especially when emotions are running so high.

What a no-fault divorce will mean 

The introduction of the new no-fault divorce means that couples wishing to divorce amicably from April 6th 2022, do not need to blame one partner for the breakdown of the marriage. 

Divorcing couples will merely need to show that their relationship has broken down. This can be done by one or both parties submitting a statement to that effect, and then the divorce proceedings can begin. 

The option of a party wanting to contest the divorce is to be removed, meaning it will end the unnecessarily long and costly process that only builds more resentment between the parties. 

For couples that have simply outgrown each other and want to part on amicable terms and make their divorce as pain-free as possible, it will now be easy for them to part. Couples can submit a joint application, and the divorce process will move a lot quicker.

Changing the language of divorce

The change in the law to introduce no-fault divorce will change the way couples can separate for the better. During a traditional divorce, it can be challenging for parents, in particular, to look at the needs of their children when their emotions are running so high.

Making divorce more amicable will also help preserve a good relationship between both parties because there will be no need for accusations that can deeply hurt the other party.

Under the new legislation, the language used in divorce proceedings will also be overhauled. Some of the archaic terms used, such as Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute, will be replaced with more understandable phrases; Conditional Order and Final Order. 

However, the new legislation does come with 20 weeks of reflection before a Conditional Order can be made. This is to give you time to work out the finer points of your divorce settlement and take legal advice from a family lawyer to ensure you make the best decisions for yourself and your family.


JMW is a full-service law firm providing legal services and advice for both businesses and individuals. With three offices in the UK, the firm’s head office in Manchester and has a full-service office in London and specialist family law teams in Liverpool.

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