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  • Writer's pictureCarole Nettleton

No Fault Divorce

Updated: Jan 2, 2021

“No fault divorce” – What does it mean?

Since 1973 the divorce law stated that to obtain a divorce ( and more recently dissolution of a civil partnership ) it was necessary to evidence the fact that a marriage had broken down by using one of 5 factors. These are either:

• Adultery ( divorce only )

• Unreasonable behaviour

• Desertion for 2 years (very rarely used)

• 2 years separation with consent

• 5 years separation without consent.

The Divorce and Separation Act 2020 was grated Royal Assent on 25th June 2020 and will ultimately abolish those 5 factors.

When the new Act comes into force (anticipated to be autumn 2021) either one party or now both parties apply for a divorce based upon the fact that the marriage or civil partnership has irretrievably broken down. That will be the only basis.

The court will grant a “conditional order” 20 weeks after the start of proceeding and then a final divorce order 6 weeks after the conditional order.

How to do it.

The application for a divorce order is filed, we wait 20 weeks before we can apply for the conditional order and then wait a further 6 weeks before we apply for the final divorce order.

It has removed the need to set out any fault in terms of adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

These were the only grounds available if parties had not been separated for 2 years and some parties had to wait 5 years if the other spouse did not consent.

The idea of a 20-week waiting time is to give any tense or heated situation time to calm down and to allow people to reflect on what can be a life changing decision.

As with the previous divorce procedure, often we will wait until financial matters are resolved particularly if there are pension funds involved.

Resolution (the family lawyers solicitors group) had been campaigning for 30 years to get the divorce law changed as it was thought to be outdated and not reflective of the changes in views in society.

I agree with the general consensus that it was time to end the “blame game” so that parties who are divorcing or dissolving their civil partnership can focus on resolving finances or arrangements for children without having acrimony added to a situation with allegations of adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

Please contact me on 07958 028069

Or email me on if you need any advice concerning divorce, separation or dissolution of civil partnership.

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