No-fault divorce has been given the green light!

28th July 2020

No-fault divorce has been given the green light after a long campaign by legal professionals.

Resolution, an organisation of family law professionals including Solicitors, have been campaigning for change for thirty years:

“This is the biggest reform of divorce laws in England and Wales in over fifty years, demonstrating just how outdated and old-fashioned fault-based divorce is.”

Current law

There is only one ground for divorce. It must be proven that a marriage has broken down irretrievably. The current legal process for divorce encourages one spouse to place blame on the other to avoid waiting for at least two years to divorce.

The landmark case, Owens and Owens, shows the harsh reality of when somebody is unable to satisfy the legal test that the other party has behaved unreasonably.  Without her husband’s consent to the divorce, Mrs Owens has been left with no other option than to wait five years while being trapped in a loveless marriage.

Luckily, the end of the ‘blame game’ is almost in sight with the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 being given Royal Assent on 25th June 2020. This means the Act will soon come into force as law.

How will the new law help me?

The fault-based facts will be removed and replaced with a statement simply evidencing that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The other party will no longer be able to contest the divorce, as the statement will satisfy the criteria.

The two-stage process will remain, with the first stage being known as a ‘Conditional Order’ and the second being known as a ‘Final Order’. The new law will not speed up the process, as there will be twenty weeks from the start of proceedings to when the application can be progressed to a Conditional Order. There is currently no minimum timeframe for this. The purpose of the twenty-week timeframe is to allow for couples to make practical arrangements for the future and not to rush into a divorce. There will also be an option to make a joint application by both parties where the decision to divorce is a mutual one.

When can I rely on the new law?

Although there is no fixed date for when the new law will come into force, Resolution have suggested late 2021 is a realistic timeframe.

Here at Hannay’s Solicitors and Advocates, we understand that applying for a divorce will rarely be an easy process and are here to help. The decision to apply for a divorce now or wait until the new law comes into force will depend on your individual circumstances. Please contact our office to make an appointment to discuss your options further – our telephone number is 0191 4555361 or email info@hannayslaw.co.uk