As from Autumn of 2021, the divorce laws will change and ‘no-fault divorce’ will be introduced. This would be the first change in divorce laws for nearly 50 years.

The current position in England & Wales is that there is only one ground for divorce and that is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably under Section 1 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.  To prove the breakdown, the petitioner must establish one of five facts, which are expanded upon below:

  1. Adultery
  2. Behaviour
  3. Desertion
  4. Two years’ separation with the consent of the respondent
  5. Five years’ separation (no consent required)

The new Laws remove the need to blame or be separated for long periods of time and instead require a notice period. Here’s a summary of the main changes:

  • The law will retain ‘irretrievable breakdown of a marriage’ as the sole ground for divorce
  • There will be no facts of behaviour or separation needed to prove the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of the marriage.
  • The new laws will introduce a minimum timeframe of 6 months, from petition stage to final divorce (20 weeks from petition stage to decree nisi; 6 weeks from decree nisi to decree absolute). This means divorces will take an average 6 weeks longer than they presently do.
  • Separating couples will be able to jointly apply for a divorce alongside retaining the option for one person to initiate the process
  • You will no longer be able to contest a divorce

It is hoped that the introduction of the ‘no fault divorce proceedings would remove most of the animosity and rancour which characterize the fault-based divorce, and which exacerbates what is already a very stressful time for most people.

We are here to support you through every step of your divorce proceedings. If you would like more information on the divorce process, then please do not hesitate to contact our Family Law Department to speak to one of our Specialists.