Skip to main content

An end to the ‘Blame Game’ – No Fault Divorce

6th April 2022 marked a turning point in family law with the introduction of the no-fault divorce in a landmark reform for the Courts – the biggest overhaul in more than 50 years! Thousands of couples will now be able to separate amicably rather than creating unnecessary stress for all parties involved or having to be separated for years before a divorce would be granted.

An end to the ‘Blame Game’ – No Fault Divorce

The UK has now followed suit of countries such as Sweden, Australia, Germany, Canada and Spain in allowing couples to divorce with the no-fault rules. Over the last 30 years, Family Lawyers, Mediation Teams and countless couples have been campaigning for the Government to change the rules of divorce and, in 2018, the Supreme Court requested that Parliament reconsider the laws surrounding divorce.

Previously, one partner had to either submit an accusation of the other’s conduct (adultery, unreasonable behavior or desertion) or, couples had to be separated for a number of years before the Court would even entertain the idea of a divorce (either a two-year separation by consent or five-year separation) - regardless of whether the couple had reached a mutual decision to separate or not. Also, under the previous rules, one partner could even contest the divorce and effectively ‘lock in’ the other and tie them to an unhappy marriage. It had even been recognised that domestic abusers could use this as a tactic to further harm their partner be that mentally or physically.

The new reform finally puts an end to the long-outdated rules meaning that couples can now, for the first time, jointly apply for a divorce simply by stating that their marriage has broken down without any hope of reconciliation as well as still being able to do so individually. Not only will this benefit the two individuals in a marriage but any children that may be involved as they will not have to bear witness to a prolonged slanging match between parents. The chance to contest a decision to divorce has also been removed now that it is no longer a requirement to provide evidence. Instead, a statement of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage is required and, in most cases, will be all the proof the court needs to grant the divorce.

These however are not the only changes which have been made as the language has also been simplified to make it more understandable for the general public. Terms such as ‘decree nisi’, ‘decree absolute’ and ‘petitioner’ have now been replaced with ‘conditional order’ ‘final order’ and ‘applicant’. There is a minimum timeframe of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings to when the individuals can apply for a conditional order of divorce. There is then an additional 6 week period between the conditional order and the final order. This timeframe will offer couples a period of time to factor in important arrangements such as dealing with the financials, any property involved and child arrangements for the future.

Dominic Raab, Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Justice said ‘…we are allowing couples to apply for divorce without having to prove fault, ending the blame game, where a marriage has broken down irretrievably, and enabling couples to move on with their lives without the bitter wrangling of an adversarial divorce process.’

The new 'no-fault' rules also apply to the breakdown of civil partnerships and therefore same-sex couples will also benefit from the update.

According to the Office of National Statistics, there were 103,592 divorces granted in England and Wales in 2020 with 63% of divorces being initiated by the wife.  There was also a 40% increase on same-sex divorces within 2020. Statistics do show however that the rates do appear to be falling and they have been since 2000, perhaps down to it being more socially acceptable for couples to live together before they get married and as such, if they then chose to marry, it is when they are older and have more relationship experience.

At Hodgkinsons, we understand that facing a divorce can be one of the most emotional and stressful times of your life, which is why it is important to instruct a Lawyer to handle the legal work for you, as soon as you possibly can. Our Family Lawyers here at Hodgkinsons Solicitors have helped couples and families throughout rural Lincolnshire, the East Midlands and beyond, to resolve their legal issues for over 39 years. If you are located in Skegness or surrounding areas such as Boston, Louth, Lincoln or even Grimsby, we can help with all your legal needs. To make a new enquiry and to find out how we can help ,contact our expert Family Law Team by submitting a contact form or by calling us on 01754 897150.