No fault divorce

What is no fault divorce?

No fault divorce comes into effect on 6 April 2022, it will allow people to get a divorce, civil partnership dissolution or legal separation without having to blame their ex-partner for the breakdown of their relationship.

It has long been argued that forcing couples to find fault with each other can make divorce unnecessarily difficult. If a couple need to agree child arrangements or decide how to divide their finances, it is hard to negotiate amicably when there is conflict.

No fault divorce can be less upsetting for couples and families and help them to get through a challenging time.

What is the background to no fault divorce?

Baroness Hale, Former President of the Supreme Court, has been an advocate for no fault divorce for many years. She has long believed that if couples did not have to list grievances against each other it would lessen the stress of divorce and make it easier for them to agree divorce terms.

However, others worried that no fault divorce would make divorce too easy, and they expressed concern that it would lead to people marrying without enough consideration. It was also argued that when a spouse or civil partner has behaved unreasonably then they should be held to account in the divorce process.

What does a no fault divorce mean?

Couples will no longer have to use one of the following five facts to prove their marriage has ‘irretrievably broken down’:

  • Adultery. Sexual intercourse with somebody of the opposite sex.
  • Unreasonable behaviour. Behaviour that nobody could be expected to live with such as gambling with the family finances.
  • Desertion. When a spouse has been absent for two or more years in the last two and a half years without their partner’s consent or good reason.
  • Separation for over two years. Divorce can be granted if a couple live apart for two or more years, and they both agree to divorce.
  • Separation for over five years. After a couple have been separated for five years only one of them has to agree to divorce.

Instead of having to prove one of the above, no fault divorce means couples can simply make a declaration that their marriage has irretrievably broken down.

What else has changed?

There are also changes to the legal terms in the divorce process:

  • The ‘petitioner’ is now ‘the applicant’.
  • ‘Decree nisi’ is ‘Conditional Order’.
  • ‘Decree absolute’ is ‘Final Order’.

These changes reflect the less contentious nature of the new divorce process.

Can a couple jointly apply for a no fault divorce?

Yes. A couple can apply for a no fault divorce singly or jointly. Previously one spouse had to issue divorce proceedings against the other.

How long does a no fault divorce take?

The process for a no fault divorce is as follows:

  • A couple apply for a divorce individually or together. This means they can choose to make a statement together explaining why their marriage has irretrievably broken down.
  • A Conditional Order is granted by the court. The Order will be granted a minimum of 20 weeks after the application has been received.
  • A Final Order is made by the court at least 6 weeks later.

A no fault divorce will take at least six months. It will take longer when the courts are particularly busy. No fault divorce is not designed to be quick so couples have a ‘period of reflection’. This is due to concerns that no fault divorce could make divorce too easy.

While waiting for a divorce to come through some people choose to enter into a separation agreement to set out arrangements for their children, finances and property. If these matters are agreed early, it can save time and stress in the long-term.

Can you contest a no fault divorce?

No, you cannot contest a no fault divorce. Under the current system less than 2% of divorces are contested anyway.[1] Often the reason for contesting a divorce is the mistaken belief that admitting fault will affect access to children and the fair division of financial assets.

Although a no fault divorce cannot be contested, the terms of the divorce can. For example, financial arrangements and arrangements for children. In this case terms may be agreed through mediation or, failing that, through the court.

How much does a no fault divorce cost?

A no fault divorce may be less costly than the current divorce process because it is less contentious. It is hoped that more amicable agreements can be reached more quickly so outcomes are less expensive.

Arrangements for children and matters relating to property and finances will still need to be agreed. The associated costs here will be the same as any type of divorce.

QualitySolicitors offer a range of clearly priced divorce services from local lawyers, so you can choose what best suits your circumstances. Our services range from initial Free Initial Assessment and Ask the Legal Expert (45 minutes for £99), through to full representation.

No fault divorce solicitors

Whether you are in the early stage of considering a divorce or are certain you need a solicitor to represent you, QualitySolicitors can help.

For some, the divorce process is simpler than for others. Whatever position you are in, we can provide a suitable divorce solicitor for you. Our solicitors can simply advise you and help you with paperwork so you can complete the divorce process yourself, or we can manage your divorce from start to finish.

To find out more about what a no fault divorce is or to discuss your options, please call our experts today on 08082747557.


[1] Gov UK, Divorce ‘blame game’ to end,

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