Does the UK have ‘No-fault divorce’?
The introduction of the ‘No-fault divorce’ bill in England and Wales has been on the government's agenda for many years and it's finally here!
As of the 6th of April 2022, couples can divorce or end their civil partnership using the new no-fault system which has replaced the previous 'fault-based' system.
If your divorce application was issued before the 6th of April 2022, then you will have to used the previous system.
What is a ‘no-fault divorce’?
Up until March 2022, divorcing couples in England and Wales had to choose from five reasons to prove their marriage or civil partnership had broken irretrievably, these are often referred to as the ‘grounds for divorce’. However, on the 6th April 2022 the divorce law changed for the first time in 50 years and No-fault divorce replaced the old process to divorce.
No-fault divorce ends the ‘blame game’, meaning that couples will no longer need to blame one another to prove the breakdown of their marriage. Separating couples will also be able to submit for divorce together, rather than one person divorcing the other.
How is ‘No-fault divorce’ different to the old divorce laws in England and Wales?
What do the new ‘no-fault divorce’ laws mean for the UK?
- The new laws will end the necessity for couples to blame each other or be separated for long periods of time.
- ‘No-fault divorce’ is now the sole reason for divorce and replaces the five options that used to be listed on the legal documents (adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation and five years separation)
- You can now give notice of your intention to divorce or end your civil partnership as an individual (as before) or as a couple.
- There is no longer an option to contest the divorce. If one of you thinks it's over – it is.
- There asre still two stages after giving notice, currently called decree nisi and decree absolute.
- Every couple will have to go through a 20-week 'cooling-off' period after submitting the petition.
- The language used on the forms will be changed to get rid of the archaic language. For example, what is now called a 'Divorce Petition' will be called 'An application for divorce', 'Decree Nisi' is now called 'Conditional Order' and 'Decree Absolute' is now called the 'Final Order'.
How long does a No-fault divorce take?
It will take a minimum of 30 weeks to divorce or end your civil partnership.
How much does a 'no-fault divorce' cost?
You can apply for a No-fault divorce for free using the government portal, however, you must pay a £593 court fee (unless you are eligible for a discount. You can use our court fee calculator to find out if you’re eligible for a discount.
If you would like to learn more about how much a 'No-fault divorce' costs, and how to keep the costs down read our helpful guide here. If you’re wondering how to get a ‘no-fault divorce’, call us today to discuss your options.
Why is ‘no-fault divorce’ important?
The shift from ‘fault-based divorce’ to ‘no-fault divorce’ proceedings is a hugely welcome development and one that is long overdue. The divorce laws in England and Wales have not changed this significantly in over 50 years.
Moving away from an antiquated fault-based system will empower people to start their separation without placing blame on one person, help them to protect their children and keep conflict to a minimum.
Children are the biggest winners in the new changes to the laws as parents will be able to keep things on an amicable footing and prioritise the care of their kids over arguing about divorce proceedings.
What is the law on ‘no-fault divorce’ elsewhere in the UK?
Scotland already has ‘no-fault divorce’ in place, and couples can divorce after two years apart without the need of the other person’s consent. It can be done after just one year of marriage if you have consent from your ex.
For help if you live in Scotland, please check the blog/latest government advice here
If you're based in Northern Ireland, ‘no-fault divorce’ is still under review, unfortunately. But the hope is that the progress of England and Wales will see the reform of this law in Northern Ireland accelerated.
For help with divorce if you live in Northern Ireland, please check the blog/latest government advice here
If you and or your ex live or are domiciled in either England or Wales, amicable can help. Talk to us today or book a free 15-minute advice call here, to discuss how no-fault divorce will impact you.
‘No-fault divorce’ timeline - the history of No-fault divorce?
April 2022: No-fault divorce is introduced and couples can finally submit for divorce without having to blame one person or wait for long periods of time.
June 2021: The introduction of the ‘No-fault divorce’ law in England and Wales is postponed until April 2022
On the 7th of June 2021, the government announced that they will delay implementing no-fault divorce until the 6th April 2022.
June 2020: New divorce laws and ‘no-fault divorce’ receive Royal Assent
The new divorce laws pass the second hearing in Parliament and shortly after receiving Royal Assent. Listen to episode ten of The Divorce Podcast, when Nigel Shepherd joins host Kate Daly to discuss this.
April 2019: New divorce law in England and Wales?
David Gauke, Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor confirmed today that divorce laws will change and 'no-fault divorce' will be introduced. This is the first change in divorce laws for nearly 50 years.
September 2018: Tini Owens
Tini Owens was refused her divorce by a judge. She used her husbands 'unreasonable behaviour' as the reason for the divorce. During divorce proceedings, Mr Owens rejected her reasoning, stating that he wanted to remain married. This sparked controversy and debate. Mrs Owns went to the High Court to appeal this decision. If you want to know more about this historical case, read our blog here.
Where can I find help?
If in the meantime, if you want an amicable divorce, we're here to help. If you need any assistance please call us on 020 3004 4695, or book a free 15-minute ‘No-fault divorce’ consultation below.
Can you get a no-fault divorce in the UK?
Yes, you can get a No-fault divorce in England and Wales from the 6th of April 2022. Scotland already has No-fault divorce and at the moment, No-fault divorce ins’t in place in Northern Ireland.
How does No-fault divorce work?
The definition of no-fault divorce is a shift from the old system which is associated with blame to one which is not. There will be a mandatory waiting time between submitting for divorce and the conditional order, intended as a time for reflection and there as a safeguard.
What are the benefits of No-fault divorce?
There are many benefits of no-fault divorce, the most important being removing the blame from the current system.
Is No-fault divorce now law in the UK?
Yes, in England and Wales, couples can submit for divorce using No-fault divorce from 6th April 2022.