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No-fault divorce – new law changes explained
05 Apr 2022

From April 6 2022, the no-fault divorce law comes into effect in England and Wales.

It is without doubt the biggest change to divorce law in almost 50 years and is expected to be good news for couples who have already made the decision to separate and are looking to do so amicably.

The sole aim of the new law is to help couples separate with less conflict and to resolve any issues which inevitably arise as a result of any breakdown in marriage.

Elizabeth Harris-Clark, an associate in our Family law team, explains the changes here in more detail.

Up until now, for a couple to obtain an immediate divorce, one party had to be at ‘fault’ either by committing adultery or due to their unreasonable behaviour. Otherwise, a couple had to wait for at least two years from separation before they can apply for a divorce.

However, under the new ‘no-fault’ divorce law introduced today, couples can apply for a divorce by simply saying that the marriage has irretrievably broken down without giving any reasons. Couples will also be able to jointly seek a divorce where the decision to separate is mutual.

It is aimed at helping divorcing spouses to work together and reduce conflict where possible by speeding up the process.

Under the new law, divorce proceedings are designed to take no less than 26 weeks in total. 

The applicant can apply for a conditional order from 20 weeks after the start of the proceedings. Once the conditional order is granted, no less than six weeks after that the court may make the final order of divorce.

The 20-week time frame has been built into the new legislation purposefully and is designed to allow time for individuals to reflect and consider their decision. Crucially, it also allows time for the parties to seek legal advice, if they have not done so already.

As with the old law, an application for a divorce order still cannot be made less than a year after marriage.

If you have been waiting for the new law to come into place to seek legal advice, do get in touch with the Family team or contact Elizabeth Harris-Clark directly on 01952 915142 or email elizabeth.harris-clark@fbcmb.co.uk.

Meet Elizabeth Harris-Clark