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New Divorce Law – No More `Fault`

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

The Government has confirmed that the long awaited Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill 2020 which introduces no fault divorce in England and Wales will be introduced on the 6th April 2022.

It will bring about the biggest change in Divorce Law and procedure for 50 years and ends the “blame game”.  Under the current system in England and Wales, one spouse initiates the divorce by filing a Petition based on the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.  The grounds for an immediate divorce can only be the other spouse`s unreasonable behaviour or adultery otherwise there is a requirement that the couple live apart for a period of between two years (if the other party consents) or five years, before the marriage can be legally dissolved.

How will the new Law change divorce?

Upon implementation, the new procedure will mean that instead of having to attribute blame, once there is an irretrievable breakdown, one or both parties can file a Statement with the Court confirming the irretrievable breakdown without having to give any information about the conduct of the other spouse.  This will be likely to reduce animosity in already difficult and emotive circumstances and will aid the separating couple in concentrating on any children and financial decisions to be made and without the added stress and animosity that can feature with the backdrop of a fault based Petition.

New procedure

Once the application for divorce has been filed there will be a wait of 20 weeks from service of the application before the Applicant can apply for a Conditional Order of Divorce.  This time period will allow both parties to reflect on their decision to end the marriage and also to deal with any financial and/or children matters that arise.  The final dissolution of the marriage will then be possible once six weeks has elapsed from the Conditional Order.

The Bill represents a welcome change and long overdue modernisation of a law that has existed for many years and that will hopefully bring about a kinder process that focusses more on the practical decisions that need to be made following the breakdown of the marriage rather than the fault behind the breakdown itself.

The arrangements for the resolution of financial matters will remain the same as they are at present.

If you would like to understand more about how the current or future law will affect your circumstances please contact our Family Law team on 0800 088 6004.

Heather Davies


Heather Davies

Family Law Practitioner

Heather is a long serving member of the Family Law Team. She has over 25 years experience in advising client on all aspects of relationship breakdown. She assists clients in respect of the protection of their assets when considering living together or planning marriage.