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  • Writer's pictureEmma Aslett

Family Law | New Divorce Laws: No-Fault Divorce

Updated: Aug 8, 2023

On 06 April 2022, legislation surrounding divorce came into force.

This change has been a big shake up in divorce law for more than half a century.

Previously, to obtain a divorce, the person seeking the divorce must satisfy the Court that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and, to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down, the Petitioner must show one of the following five facts:

a. that the other party has committed adultery;

b. that the behaviour of the other party is unreasonable;

c. that the other party has deserted the Petitioner for at least 2 years;

d. that the parties have lived apart for at least 2 years and both parties consent to the proceedings; and

e. that the parties have lived apart for at least 5 years (the other parties' consent to the proceedings is not required).


Anyway, the old law forced most couples to either make accusations about the other, have one party to be considered the “bad guy” (or girl), or wait many years for the divorce to be granted in the most mutual way.

The new law that has now come into force allows couples to no longer assign blame for the breakdown of the marriage. Either party or both can apply to the Court seeking a no-fault divorce.

There is also an introduction of a minimum period of 20 weeks between the start of the proceedings and the application for a conditional order, in order to allow reflection and a chance for the parties to reconsider.

The new law also introduced that it will no longer be possible to contest a divorce except on limited grounds including jurisdiction.

Practitioners be careful though… certain terms have been replaced to make it more understandable to the layperson, such as replacing the terms “decree nisi”, “decree absolute” and “petitioner”, with “conditional order”, “final order” and “applicant”.

It sounds great but… is the online divorce portal going to have any more problems, is it completely fixed, and will it survive an influx of applications…?

My final thought?

Whilst I understand that the law is supposed to make the divorce process much easier for separating couples, I must say that I grew up thinking that marriage was supposed to be a lifelong commitment (and this is coming from someone whose parents never married and have been separated a considerable time).

So, it is sad to see that divorces in England & Wales are growing and hopefully this will not become a passage for people to divorce easily, without really thinking about it.

The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute professional advice and you should take full and comprehensive legal, accountancy or financial advice as appropriate on your individual circumstances by a fully qualified Solicitor, Accountant or Financial Advisor/Mortgage Broker before you embark on any course of action.

Please feel free to contact me on 0207 183 4595 or at emma.aslett@pennchambers.co.uk

0207 183 4595

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