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No-fault divorce: It’s not you...and it’s not me, either!

25 September 2020

At the end of June, the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill received royal assent, paving the way for the first ‘no fault’ divorces.

The landmark change seeks to minimise conflict, at a time when emotions are likely to be running high. It means that couples who are separating will no longer need to assign blame to one of the parties in order to get a divorce.

Currently, divorces can only be granted in England or Wales within the first 2 years’ of separation on the basis of a fault-based fact of either adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

The need to assign blame (or even create blame, where there often is none) does little to encourage a conflict-free parting of ways, particularly where children are involved. Whilst couples wanting to avoid conflict can opt to postpone a formal separation for 2 years or more this delay in itself can cause unnecessary conflict and prolonged uncertainty for families.

The reform comes after 30 years of campaigning by constructive family justice group Resolution (of which our family lawyers are members) and is the first change to our divorce laws in more than 50 years.

Margaret Heathcote, Resolution’s National Chair, commented: “Our members have been campaigning for change for years, in Westminster and in towns and cities across the country where they work.

“They’re all committed to reducing conflict between separating couples, but our outdated divorce laws have meant they’ve been working with one hand tied behind their backs.”

Practical arrangements for the implementation of the Bill will take some time, and there are still a few technical details that campaigners wish to iron out. However, early indications suggest that a no-fault divorce will be an option for all separating couples from Autumn 2021.

If you would like advice on divorce or any family law issue, no matter how complex, we would be pleased to help, so get in touch.

Email Jonathan

A senior associate in our divorce and family law team, Jonathan helps clients with all areas of family law, in a collaborative, client-focused way. He is particularly experienced in working with high-net-worth individuals with complex financial assets, and is recommended in independent legal guides Chambers UK and The Legal 500 UK.

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Jonathan Eager FCILEx
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