No-Fault Divorce

No-fault divorce came into effect in England and Wales on 6 April 2022. As of this date, persons petitioning for divorce or civil partnership dissolution will no longer need to prove necessary grounds. This reform stops the need for couples who are separating to allocate blame for the breakdown of their marriage, helping them to instead focus on important decisions such as those involving children or their finances and look to the future.

The reform under The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will be the biggest change in divorce law in over five decades.

Under previous law, reasonable ground needed to be established for divorce and civil partnership dissolution. This was regardless of whether both parties agreed to separate.

This fault could be established with the court by using one of three reasons for divorce:

  • Adultery –If you could prove adultery, you needed to say you found it intolerable to live together.
  • Unreasonable Behaviour –In this case, the court had to agree the behaviour made it unreasonable to expect you to continue living together. Courts required specific examples of such behaviour.
  • Desertion –This could make for particularly complicated legal proceedings. While there’s no statutory delay to the process itself, you couldn’t start until two years after the desertion.

Under the new law irretrievable breakdown will continue to remain as the sole basis for divorce, but now without the need to provide a reason such as unreasonable behaviour or adultery.

The reform enables couples and their lawyers to centre their efforts on ‘uncoupling’, instead of allocating blame; creating a positive change in family law on a mutual decision and, when children are involved with the process.

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