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| Martyn Stacey | News

How Much Better Is No-fault Divorce?

Since 6th April 2022 the new system of no-fault divorce has been available to all new applicants for a divorce. The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 had been scheduled to be introduced to the UK in the autumn of 2021. That has now been delayed until April 2022. How does this change things?

The Old System

You could bring divorce proceedings using one ground only – that is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. You can prove this in one of five ways, referred to as facts:

  1. That the other party has committed adultery.
  2. That the other party has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.
  3. That the other party deserted you two years or more ago.
  4. That you and the other party separated two years or more ago and the other party consents to their being a divorce. (This would be appropriate where, for example, you both agreed to separate rather than where the other party walked out on you.)
  5. That you and the other party separated more than 5 years ago.

The New System

The new legislation has:

  • replaced the ‘five facts’ with a new requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown;
  • remove the possibility of contesting the divorce except on limited grounds mainly linked to lack of jurisdiction;
  • introduce an option for a joint application;
  • made sure language is in plain English, for example, changing ‘decree nisi’ to conditional order and ‘decree absolute’ to final order.

How Will This Change Things?

No-fault divorce will lessen the pain which you will both feel when your relationship comes to an end and give you an opportunity to deal with things more constructively.

This lack of conflict will have a knock-on effect further on down the line. For example, it may shorten negotiations on financial issues. It may mean that you are able to come to a more rapid agreement about the arrangements for your children. It is likely to mean that you and your other half will be able to work together constructively to co-parent your children and know that the other parent will step in to help when you need it. Your children will see that you are both getting on together as best you can and the lack of conflict will have a positive long-lasting effect on their lives.

An example of the impact on your family of a difficult divorce is what might happen when your children get married. Do you want to be placed at opposite ends of the room like 2 spheres of uranium which will generate harmful radiation if brought too close together? Or would you rather be sitting on the same table as the other parent, sharing a few laughs over a glass of wine about how your daughter used to run around dressed like a fairy and looking for unicorns?

The key benefit is that it avoids starting off divorce proceedings with an argument about who did what to who and what went wrong. You will already have spent far too long talking or arguing with your other half about these topics. It is now possible to bring your relationship to an end by giving it a quiet funeral rather than a messy and argumentative post-mortem.

As with any new system, it may be that there are teething troubles with the revised online system. Although it remains to be seen whether the transition will be smooth from a practical point of view for those starting new divorce proceedings, there is no doubt that this is a new and welcome development in family law.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is a family law Solicitor with over 40 years’ experience and a member of Stacey and Mason LLP.

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