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“No Fault” Divorce Reforms


The old divorce laws are outdated and could be mentally draining when couples have to prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down on the basis of one of the five statutory grounds. The new legislative changes reshape the landscape of divorce proceedings from April 2022 onwards.

How does “no fault” divorce work

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 reforms process for divorce and brings significant changes since the last 50 years. To get divorced in the past under the English law, parties had to prove to the court on one of the five statutory grounds that their marriage had irretrievably broken down. The Act which came into effect on 6 April 2022 aims to reduce the potential for conflicts amongst divorcing couples by:

  • allowing couples to end their marriage jointly 
  • removing blame as a requirement for a divorce to be granted

It is now no longer possible to contest a divorce except on limited grounds including jurisdiction.  As the “no-fault” divorce part does not deal with financial and children matters, the parties may now focus on more important issues such as any financial and property matters or claims between them as well as children support.

There is a minimum period of twenty weeks between the start of proceedings and application for conditional order. This provides couples with a meaningful period of reflection and the chance to reconsider whether they still want to divorce. 

The terminology used in the new divorce legislation has also been modernised into plain English. For example: –

  • The “petitioner” will now be the “applicant”.
  • The “decree nisi” will now be called a “conditional order”
  • And finally, the “decree absolute” will be called a “final order.”

As a note, the relevant laws on the dissolution of a civil partnership will also be updated and brought into line with this divorce reform; broadly the same system and principles will be used, complete with the no-fault declaration.

From 31 March 2022, the old digital service for divorce became unavailable and a new online service was introduced. 

Applications can be made by either one person (as applicant) or by the couple jointly. The court charges a court fee of £593 upfront.

Positives of “no fault” divorce

The “no fault” divorce regime spares parties of possible emotive time under the old law to prove one of the 5 grounds for divorce : unreasonable behaviour, desertion by one party, adultery, two years separation with consent, or five years separation without consent. The new law helps reduce conflict and stress between the parties. 

Since there will be minimal or little involvement from lawyer in the “no fault” divorce part, no legal costs will be necessary to spend on “blaming” the other party. 

There will be a minimum period of 20 weeks from the start of divorce application to the making of a Conditional Order, such that parties can treat this time as cooling-off period about whether they truly want a divorce.   

Monarch Solicitors specialist Divorce Solicitors provide a tailor-made approach to your needs, and give professional, practical and cost-effective advice to your intended proceedings. Please contact us on 0330 127 8888 for an initial advice. 


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