What are the grounds for a No-fault Divorce?

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Our specialist family solicitors in Warrington, Cheshire, can assist you in reaching the best financial settlement with your spouse as part of your divorce proceedings.  Our expert family solicitors will provide straightforward, clear and coherent advice.

Under the current law, couples who wish to separate need to provide a set of facts that prove that their relationship has irretrievably broken down. In practice, this means that a range of causes needs to be proven. These include:

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Separation for a least 2 years with the consent of both parties
  • Separation for at least 5 years even if one party does not consent

The petition for divorce will be brought by one of the parties, who in effect places the blame for the divorce on the other party. If the other party disagrees, then the facts of the breakdown need to be established, often resulting in delays or in some cases, the divorce not being granted.

From April 2022, the new law will allow couples to divorce without the need to prove any of the five grounds for divorce.

How will the new law work?

The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill will finally introduce a no-fault divorce into UK law.  It will retain the irretrievable breakdown as the sole grounds for divorce but will remove the requirement to establish one or more facts to prove that the relationship really has broken down beyond repair.

The old language, of ‘Decree Nisi’ and ‘Decree Absolute’ will be replaced with ‘Conditional Order’ and ‘Final Order’. The person submitting the order, currently known as the ‘petitioner’, will in future simply be called the ‘applicant’.

What will this mean in practice?

In short, the new law will simplify the whole process of applying for and securing a divorce. It will remove the element of blame that exists in the current law and will hopefully result in a situation where couples are able to split in a more amicable manner, reducing costs, time and stress.

If both parties agree, they will be able to make a joint application for divorce or dissolution. It will remove the risk and worry of a partner contesting the divorce or dissolutions and then forcing them to go to court.

New time scales will mean that most couples will need to wait 6 months for their divorce or dissolution to be finalised. This time is intended as a period of reflection to enable both parties to fully consider and consent to the divorce.  During this time couples will still need to make separate arrangements to divide their finances, agree to any maintenance payments, agree on child residence, contact and an ongoing parenting plan.

A simpler system

While most divorces under the current system go ahead in a straightforward manner with both parties agreeing that there has been an irretrievable breakdown, there is still the possibility of the divorce being contested. By removing the need for proof and the ability to contest the divorce, the whole system becomes much simpler for the individuals involved to negotiate.

In effect, the only grounds for a no-fault divorce are if one or both partners believes that the relationship has broken down irretrievably and now wishes to get divorced.

For further information about the new divorce law and for confidential advice, call 01244 506444 today.

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Author Colin Freeman View Profile
Colin qualified as a solicitor in 1998. He specialises predominantly in family law, litigation / dispute resolution, wills, probate and settlement agreements and has notable cases reported in the Court of Appeal and High Court.
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