No Fault Divorce – Reform is finally on its way

10 Apr 2019

Divorce laws in England and Wales will at long last be reformed to simplify the process and hopefully reduce hostility between separating spouses.

The current divorce legislation in England and Wales dates back to 1973 (The Matrimonial Causes Act). Under this Act it is not possible to immediately divorce your spouse without apportioning blame. Resolution, a National body which represents family lawyers, has long campaigned for this to change with the introduction of a no fault divorce. As members of Resolution, our aim is to reduce animosity and deal with matters in a constructive way, something which can be at odds with the current divorce laws.

This topic has received much press attention in recent months following the high profile case of Owens v Owens and a 12 week public consultation which showed there was widespread support for “no fault divorce”.

The Justice Secretary David Gauke has now approved reforms to the existing legislation.

What will change?

– You can rely on the marriage having irretrievably broken down without apportioning blame, fault or reason and without having to wait for a period of separation of at least two years. This will make terms such as “unreasonable behaviour” and “adultery” redundant in divorce petition.
– You will be able to jointly apply for divorce to be finalised.
– You must wait a minimum of six months from issuing the Petition to apply to finalise the divorce so as to give both parties a cooling off period.

What will stay the same?

– You still have to wait a minimum of one year after getting married to initiate divorce proceedings.
– The process will still consist of a Petition, Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute.

How will this help?

It has been widely accepted for many years that reducing hostility on divorce is essential in order to maintain parental relations for the benefit of any children of the family.

Andrew Mercer, Head of the Family Team at Trethowans, says “this is an extremely welcome development and one which is long over due. Where a couple acknowledge that their marriage has irretrievably broken down they must be allowed to secure its dissolution without resorting to blame”.

These changes are supported not only by Resolution, the majority of family lawyers but also other organisations such as Relate. With 118,000 divorce petitions being issued in England and Wales last year, these changes will have widespread impact once implemented.

What next?

Unfortunately, this new legislation cannot be introduced until Parliamentary time is available. How long this will take is anyone’s guess but this is still a significant step in the right direction for many.

Trethowans, Family Team Dorset Legal Awards

If your relationship has sadly come to an end, our experienced and highly regarded team of family lawyers can provide you with the legal support and guidance you need to handle your divorce or separation as smoothly as possible. Don’t hesitate to submit an online enquiry today and the right person will get back to you as soon as possible.

Eloise Down

Eloise Down

Chartered Legal Executive

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01202 339024