The new ‘no-fault’ divorce laws are the most significant change to England’s divorce laws in almost half a century. Here’s what the change to law means for couples who want to end their marriage
Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Couples will no longer have to blame each other in order to get a divorce from April 2022 onwards.
In the biggest update to England’s divorce laws in nearly 50 years, ‘no fault’ divorces will mean that couples no longer have to provide reasons for wanting to permanently separate from each other.
The new law, which will come into effect from April 6, is part of a wider spate of changes to the divorce process brought in by the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020. It is hoped that this will make the ending of a marriage more friendly and less stressful.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new divorce laws.
What does a ‘no fault’ divorce mean?
No fault divorces, which have been used in Scotland since 2006, will end the blame game culture in divorces, because couples will no longer need to provide a reason for wanting a divorce.
This means that previous grounds for ending a marriage, such as proof of adultery, will not be needed and divorce applications will immediately be granted.
What were grounds for divorce previously?
Previously, couples who wanted a divorce need to rely on proving that their relationship irreparably broken down, through one of five facts, including:
- unreasonable behavior
- Desertion for at least two years
- Separation for at least two years, with the consent of both parties
- Separation for at least five years even if one party disagrees there should be a divorce
This meant that some couples had to wait many years before initiating a divorce or depend on ‘unreasonable behaviour’ even in case of mutual splits, which often led to anger and resentment towards each other.
The new law removes the need to establish any of these five facts, which allows couples to divorce gracefully without having to blame each other to get the divorce.
What are the advantages of no fault divorce?
English law has always required couples seeking separation to provide proof of their marriage breaking down before the family court will grant a divorce.
Sometimes, the court might even disagree forcing couples to wait two years before being able to legally divorce.
The new ‘no fault’ divorce law not only removes the need for proof, but also gives people the ability to petition for divorce even if one party doesn’t want it.
This change should help save money and time for couples, who can also make joint applications, in line with several couples wishing to remain amicable after their divorce.
While there will be time included in the process for reflection, the new change means that the law will trust the couples to decide if their marriage is over with less judicial discretion involved than before.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.