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No Fault Divorce

22 November 2021 | Louise Kiely

If you are considering starting divorce proceedings or have received notification from your ex-partner, you may well be aware of the phrase ‘no fault divorce’, but what does it mean for you and your situation? We look at the facts and explain the implications for separating couples. 

Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020

The government’s Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 will remove the longstanding fault-based facts on which you can currently rely upon to divorce or dissolve your civil partnership.

The new legislation will replace the five facts with a new requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown. It will remove the possibility of contesting the divorce and introduce an option for a joint application.

The changes will apply to both marriages and civil partnerships.

Changes to the online process

The online process for issuing a divorce under the new legislation has become simpler and the language more user friendly.  The Latin phrases Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute have been removed and instead you will obtain the conditional order and the final order of divorce. This is real progress in what a lot of legal professionals deem to be out of date legislation and processes.

The option for a joint application is a little more complex as the second applicant will have to review and approve the first applicant’s answers in the petition. This is then sent back to the first applicant to confirm and pay the court fee. There is a flaw, in that only the first applicant is able to pay the court fee. It is hoped that if the parties are amicable enough to enter a joint application, they are amicable enough to settle on how the court fee is shared.

Will no fault divorce be a quick solution?

There will be a minimum waiting period of 20 weeks between the application being issued by the court and the divorce becoming final. This has been introduced to counter any concerns that the reforms will make divorce a quicker and easier option for couples. This is a period of reflection and opportunity to work through the relationship difficulties, much in the same way as the period between the current Decree Nisi and Decree Absolute is.

When will no fault divorce come into effect?

There have been arguments for and against the reform of divorce laws in England and Wales, which came to a head in 2018 when the government announced there would be reform. Removing the blame in the divorce application may serve to preserve relationships moving forward.

These changes are set to come into effect in April 2022, however the online system will need to ensure it is equipped to deal with the changes prior.

Expert family law advice

If you are considering starting divorce proceedings or have received notification from your ex-partner and would like to discuss your situation with a legal expert, contact our friendly family law team. We offer a free initial discussion so that you can understand your options and next steps. Please call us on 0117 906 9400 or email

If you would prefer to find out where you stand legally, you can use our online questionnaire which will provide you with a personalised report. You can then use this once you are ready to talk.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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