NO FAULT DIVORCE: THE UK DIVORCE LAW CHANGES EXPLAINED

While Hollywood may be guilty of highlighting the potential for conflict, bitterness and rivalry between couples filing for divorce, it’s no secret that the complexity of the process – and the fact that many couples must resort to the ‘blame game’ in order to complete their application – does lead to plenty of emotionally taxing feuds.

Now, however, we are finally able to avoid any call for blame, accusation, or providing ‘evidence’ intended to prove one partner cannot be expected to live with the other any longer.

True, we’ll probably never reach a point where every marriage can end amicably, and there will always be circumstances that serve as fuel to long and draining divorces, but the government’s decision to introduce No Fault Divorces in April 2022 promises to turn the tides for so many couples who would rather focus on moving on than retreading old ground.

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What is the Current Situation?

The government’s current approach to divorce stipulates that one (or more) facts for divorce need to be given in order for a decree nisi to be granted. These facts are intended to prove that the marriage has broken beyond repair, and include a rather limited choice ranging from adultery to addiction, abandonment and unreasonable behaviour. While these options cover a range of possibilities, they all serve one common purpose: to place blame on the head of one partner (the respondent), and to prove that the other (the petitioner) should be granted permission to end the marriage as a result.

As it stands, a divorcing couple who do not wish to pass blame must be separated for two years before being granted a divorce – or five years if one partner is unwilling. These remain the only options for ending a marriage.

For so many individuals, definitively assigning blame is not a simple exercise. It can be made incredibly difficult if the couple share children, as the application process more or less compels couples to ‘turn on one another’, unless they are willing to remain legally married for two more years.

For years now, many bodies and organisations have been working to take the sting out of divorce proceedings. The community Resolution, for instance, have been working for years to ensure a non-confrontational approach for separating families, and respected solicitors like www.willans.co.uk continue to uphold their core values each and every year.

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What is the ‘No Fault’ Divorce?

As the name suggests, a no fault divorce removes the need for couples to assign blame – or even find a root cause for their marriage’s breakdown. Couples may simply state that their marriage has broken down, with no further details given.

Rather than it being a case of ‘petitioner vs respondent’, couples can apply jointly, and eschew any need to accuse the other of a specific transgression.

This change has been a long time coming, with some petitioning against its introduction on the grounds that it will make divorces easier and, as a result, lead to a significant increase as couples jump to that final conclusion, rather than attempting to repair the marriage.

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Fortunately, however, the government has accepted the value this option holds for so many couples who feel no desire to pursue an acrimonious end to their partnership. Instead, they will be free to draw that chapter of their lives to a close without being forced to linger on the most negative aspects of their marriage, or create an enemy out of someone who will remain in their lives, and the lives of their children.

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