Introduction of “No Fault Divorce”

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There has been significant media coverage over the radical shake up of divorce law which will introduce the concept of “No Fault Divorce”. This has been a change much anticipated for many years and has finally made it on to the statue books.

Unfortunately, the new procedure will not be implemented until Autumn 2021 which in the interim period means still having to operate within the existing divorce framework.

Currently under English law for a divorce to be granted, the party petitioning must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down.

In order to evidence this, the party must rely on one of five facts:

The “Fault” Grounds

  1. Unreasonable behaviour
  2. Adultery

The “Non-Fault” Grounds

  1. Two years separation with consent
  2. Five years separation
  3. Desertion
From October 2021 both parties to a divorce can jointly apply for a divorce order simply stating that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

In terms of desertion, this is extremely rare and the other two rely on the parties having lived apart for at least two years.

In circumstances where the parties wish to proceed immediately so that they can formally resolve financial matters between them, they are forced to rely on one of the fault based grounds even in circumstances in which they do not wish to do so, thereby potentially creating tension and adding an acrimonious element to divorce which is often unnecessary.

From October 2021 following the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 receiving Royal Assent on 25th June 2020, both parties to a divorce can jointly apply for a divorce order simply stating that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. There will no longer be a need to explain the circumstances or prove the historical facts.

This is a change very much welcomed by divorce lawyers because it may well prove to be quicker and cheaper for parties by removing a source of potential conflict.

If Alan Simpson and Co can be of assistance in terms of providing advice as to whether to use the current system, or wait until the new law applies please do not hesitate to contact Marsha Edinburgh, our specialist family lawyer, at ; m.edinburgh@alansimpson.com who will be happy to assist.


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