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No Fault Divorce: UK divorce law brought into 21st Century

View profile for Susan Howarth
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Divorce law shake-up

Following more than 20 years of ‘consideration’, the UK has finally caught up with countries such as the US, Australia and Scotland by introducing the new legal concept of a ‘no-fault divorce’.

Under the landmark Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill, which was passed through the House of Commons last month and recently received Royal Assent  couples


Finally: the end of the ‘blame game’

Historically, the divorce system in England and Wales requires a couple to prove in court that their marriage has irretrievably broken down.

At least one of five specific reasons must be shown, with the main 3 reasons cited being adultery, unreasonable behaviour or separation, the first two of which are based on forcing divorcing couples to assign blame (‘fault’) in an already stressful and painful situation.


Debated and ‘under consideration’ for more than two decades, a rare case in 2018, described as the most significant divorce case of the century (Owens vs Owens), further highlighted the need for reform and saw the issue gather momentum with the bill initially introduced to the House of Commons by then-Justice Secretary David Gauke in June 2019.


In line with modern life

By changing UK divorce law to fit with modern society and attitudes towards marriage, it’s hoped that couples will be able to divorce more quickly and with less acrimony. 

Lord Chancellor and current Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has said no-fault divorces will ‘spare’ families  , going on to say “The institution of marriage will always be vitally important, but we must never allow a situation where our laws exacerbate conflict and harm a child’s upbringing. By sparing individuals the need to play the blame game, we are stripping out the needless antagonism this creates so families can better move on with their lives”.

A long time coming, the new law is welcomed by organisations such as family law body Resolution, which campaigned for no-fault divorces for 30 years, and relationship-support provider Relate.

In terms of timings, it’s expected that couples seeking a no-fault divorce will have to wait until autumn 2021 to allow time for ‘careful implementation’.


Expert advice, both now and in the future

Regardless of the reasons though, at SH&Co. we know the decision to divorce is not one taken lightly and that the thought of it can seem daunting, confusing and overwhelming.

That is why we offer lots of free advice and information, so you have time to think and review your options before making any significant decisions.

Unable to run our usual four weekly FREE drop-in family law clinics, in the current climate we’re offering all new family law clients a FREE 30-minute virtual consultation with a family law specialist.

In addition to this, we offer a range of Fixed Fee Low Cost Divorce Services for those on benefits or means-tested.

For more details, call us on 01606 48777.