No Fault Divorce Law Change

Justice Secretary David Gauke announced yesterday that the government plans to introduce no-fault divorce.

He said the changes would “help to end the blame game” and the announcement follows a public consultation where family justice professionals and those with direct experience of divorce voiced their support for reform. 

What is a no fault divorce?

Current laws require one spouse to rely on adultery or behaviour of the other for divorce proceedings to start immediately.

A no fault divorce will allow couples to state that their marriage has broken down irretrievably, without apportioning blame.

It is hoped that the new laws will help reduce conflict between separating couples, which can be damaging to children involved.

When will the divorce law change?

Divorce laws in England and Wales will be changed ”as soon as parliamentary time becomes available”.

With Brexit dominating the parliamentary agenda, it is hard to know exactly when this will be.

How will divorce law changes help?

The new divorce laws will aim to:

  • Reduce conflict between separating couples
  • Reduce harm caused to children when marriages end
  • Prevent one spouse contesting a divorce

Aidan Jones OBE, Chief Executive at relationship support charity, Relate said:

“This much-needed change to the law is good news for divorcing couples and particularly for any children involved. The outdated fault-based divorce system led parting couples to apportion blame, often resulting in increased animosity and making it harder for ex-partners to develop positive relationships as co-parents.”

Resolution

At Frettens, we are committed to a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters, and are members of Resolution. Resolution has been calling for change for over thirty years. Its former Chair and long-time campaigner for no fault divorce, Nigel Shepherd, said:

“We welcome these proposals, which almost entirely reflect Resolution’s response to the consultation, and we’re pleased the government has listened to calls from our members and others to introduce these changes.”

Amy Langlois, Family Solicitor, comments “As a member of Resolution, the news that no-fault divorce law coming ‘as soon as parliamentary time allows’ is welcomed with open arms.  It is hoped that the need for evidence of adultery, desertion or behaviour being replaced by a requirement for a statement of irretrievable breakdown will reduce conflict for divorcing couples and enable parties to remain amicable.”

What will Change?

The changes were outlined in the Government’s announcement on Tuesday 9th April, summarised below:

Proposals for changes to the law include:

  • retaining the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as the sole ground for divorce
  • replacing the requirement to provide evidence of a ‘fact’ around behaviour or separation with a requirement to provide a statement of irretrievable breakdown
  • retaining the two-stage legal process currently referred to as decree nisi and decree absolute
  • creating the option of a joint application for divorce, alongside retaining the option for one party to initiate the process
  • removing the ability to contest a divorce
  • introducing a minimum timeframe of 6 months, from petition stage to final divorce (20 weeks from petition stage to decree nisi; 6 weeks from decree nisi to decree absolute).

No fault divorce - solicitors in Christchurch and Ringwood

Our Family Team are happy to discuss any issues that this raises for you and we offer a free initial meeting or chat on the phone.

If you have any questions, you only have to ask us at Frettens. Please call 01202 499255 or 01425 610100 and Amy or a member of the team will be happy to chat about your situation and your particular requirements.