Divorcing without blame: What new legislation means for divorcing couples

16th February 2022


The long-awaited no-fault divorce legislation finally comes into force on 6th April 2022, changing the outdated approach to separation. The changes remove fault and blame from the divorce process, making it easier for separating couples to end marriages.

The current law is almost half a century old, meaning it has no relevance to today’s societal values. The former President of the Supreme Court, Baroness Hale welcomed the Bill stating the Current Law is “confusing and misleading” and it can make the situation hard for children whose parents are separating. 

The law on termination of a marriage or civil partnership will remain the same in that the marriage has to have broken down, however, the reason as to why the marriage has ended will no longer have to be proven. There are five reasons which currently have to be attributed to divorce, these include citing either, adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation and five years separation. 

This fault only method can cause undue stress and anxiety to what is already a difficult period, particularly when either unreasonable behaviour or adultery is alleged. Furthermore, if the divorce is contested there could be several hearings increasing tension between the parties and ultimately costs. 

From April these reasons for divorce will no longer exist and under the new law, couples will be able to issue divorce proceedings without blaming one another

Currently, only one spouse can issue the proceedings but under the new law, couples will be able to issue proceedings either alone or jointly and parties will no longer be able to contest a divorce.

The process for divorce will arguably have fewer delays but there will be a period of reflection with a minimum time framework of 20 weeks between the initial application and the conditional order of the divorce. This will allow couples to work through any disagreements and try to resolve other issues such as financial matters and arrangements for their children. 

The current two stages in the divorce proceedings will change from Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute to Conditional Order of the divorce and Final Order of the divorce. This is to make the language of the divorce easier to understand.

Depending on the minimum implications, the divorce may take around six months.

Should you wait until April 2022?

We at BHP Law are hopeful that the changes in the law will lead to less acrimony between separating couples and hopefully allow them to agree ancillary matters in a more conciliatory way without excess costs and further emotional stress.   

Although no fault divorce is much anticipated, it will not come into force until April, however, pending this, you can still issue divorce proceedings as the law currently stands. The Family Team at BHP Law are here to guide and advice you through that process.

If you wish to speak to any member of our family team, please contact us on 0800 590 019.

Lady Hale’s speech

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