Biz Extra

Published: April 25, 2022 | Updated: April 26, 2022

Your questions on no-fault divorce answered here by Frettens family expert Andy Stynes…

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Following decades of campaigning, the Divorce Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 has finally brought an end to ‘fault based’ divorce.

On April 6, 2022, ‘No Fault Divorce’ officially became law.

In this Q&A, Family Partner Andy Stynes answers your questions on no fault divorce; such as….

What is no fault divorce?

No-fault divorce is a divorce which, unlike ‘fault based’ divorce, doesn’t require evidence of wrongdoing by either party.

Fault based divorce (which came to an end in late March) required one party to provide evidence of conduct or separation facts against the other.

This is no longer a requirement going forward, thanks to the introduction of no-fault divorce.

How does no fault divorce work?

One party, or both parties jointly, can provide a statement that the marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’.

There is no need to make allegations or detail conduct.

The Divorce Application (previously the petition) is based on this statement alone.

The change in divorce law is great news, as it should make the divorce process a lot easier as there is no need to assign blame and therefore proceedings should be non-confrontational.

How long does a no-fault divorce take?

A no-fault divorce, from application to finalisation, should take roughly 6-7 months to complete (although this may vary).

Although this is similar to how long a fault-based divorce took under previous law, no-fault divorce has made the process a lot easier.

The process is much smoother now as there is no need to assign blame and therefore proceedings are mostly non-confrontational. This has meant that DIY divorces have become more popular.

My colleague Simon Immins has written a detailed breakdown of the timings involved in no-fault divorce here.

Has the terminology in divorce changed?

Yes, the terminology involved in the divorce process has changed since the new law came into force in early April.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • The term ‘application’ has replaced ‘petition’
  • ‘Applicant’ has replaced ‘petitioner’
  • ‘Conditional order’ has replaced the former ‘decree nisi’
  • ‘Final order’ has replaced ‘decree absolute’

Learn more about the changes to divorce terminology here.

What else do I need to know about no-fault divorce?

Here’s a few things you should know:

  • There is no specified period of separation for no-fault divorce. You could still be in the same house!
  • You don’t need the other party’s consent
  • The other party cannot defend the divorce. It can only be disputed on jurisdictional grounds, on the validity of the marriage or civil partnership, fraud and/or procedural compliance
  • There’s now an additional statutory delay which allows for a ‘period of reflection’ for parties to reconsider and make child and financial arrangements
  • Both parties are able to apply for divorce jointly, submitting a joint application

What do you think about no-fault divorce?

Family Partner Andy Stynes says: “This is a huge step forward in helping couples to separate more amicably.

“Previously, parties who wished to divorce had to either wait until they had been separated at least 2 years or make allegations about the other party’s conduct or infidelity, which inevitably caused friction.

“The new procedure, whilst obviously not removing all the pain of the divorce, does mean that the matter can proceed without blaming the other party.

“For many years we have had clients asking ‘Can’t we just say that the marriage has broken down without giving a reason?’  Well, now you can.”

Specialist no-fault divorce solicitors

At Frettens, our team of bright and approachable family solicitors specialise in offering pragmatic legal advice in plain English.

We can assist you in your divorce, financial order or child arrangements order.

We offer a free initial chat for all new clients. Simply call us on 01202 499255 or fill out the form at the top of this page to get in touch.