Mother and daughter during the no-fault divorce process
 Shakeela Bi
Legally reviewed by: Shakeela Bi Updated:

After years of campaigning, the new Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill is to replace the previous divorce laws. The new bill is set to remove required blame between parties during the divorce process. The new no-fault divorce legislation is designed to be an update on the current divorce law, providing a more amicable solution for couples looking to file for a divorce.

As well as removing the requirement of blame from the divorce process, no-fault divorce provides new options to apply for divorce jointly as well as removing the option to contest the divorce.

With all the changes being made to the divorce process, there are understandably lots of new questions arising about how no-fault divorce may affect the divorce process. At AWH Solicitors our no-fault divorce solicitors can guide you through the new changes, providing any advice you may need. 

What Does No-Fault Divorce Mean?

No-fault divorce is a new divorce law meaning spouses will no longer need to assign blame in order to be granted a divorce if they haven’t been separated for two years or more.

The current divorce law requires the petitioner (now called the ‘applicant’) in the divorce to rely on one of the five facts to prove the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Two of these facts are fault-based. The facts are:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Two years of separation with the Respondent’s consent
  • Five years of separation
  • Desertion

When Does No-Fault Divorce Reform Start in the UK?

The new legislation will be brought into action on the 6th of April 2022.

You will be unable to file a no-fault divorce until the 6th of April. Any divorces filed before this date will rely on the current divorce law. The cut-off date to submit petitions under the current law is 31st March 2022 unless your application is urgent.

 What Will the New Divorce Law Bring?

The previous divorce law was criticised for requiring a level of blame from one party to the other if they didn’t wish to wait two years before presenting a divorce petition to the court.

The new no-fault divorce law has been designed to provide a solution for couples wishing to divorce on more amicable grounds without waiting two years.

Like with the previous law, with no-fault divorce, the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage will remain the overall ground for divorce. However, the new bill will remove the requirement to establish one or more facts to prove an irretrievable breakdown.

Additionally, other changes are to be made to the divorce process, which include:

  • A 20-week timescale between the issue of the petition and the first stage of the divorce (the conditional order) to provide a period of reflection, and a 6-week timescale from the conditional order to the final order. In total, there will be a minimum of six months from the date the petition is issued to the final order.
  • The application for divorce can be withdrawn at any time.
  • Complex legal jargon is to be replaced, making the divorce process easier to understand.
  • The ability to contest a divorce, dissolution, or separation to be removed. It is worth noting that there will still be some legal grounds for challenging the divorce if needed.
  • There’ll be a choice between initiating the application for divorce jointly or on a sole application basis. 

What’s the Timescale for No-Fault Divorce?

Unfortunately, a no-fault divorce will not make the process of divorce any quicker than previously. The process requires a 6-month period before you can obtain a final divorce order. This period of six months is intended to be a period where both parties can reflect on whether they truly want to separate.

The process involves a minimum of 20 weeks from the start of proceedings till when the ‘Conditional Order’ can be made. This is followed by a 6-week period between the Conditional Order and when the Final Order can be made.

An agreement still needs to be reached with your partner for a divorce settlement. This means that you will need to decide how to divide up your assets and savings. Additionally, both parties will need to come to an amicable agreement regarding child custody. These difficult decisions require some time to manage correctly.

When Should I Make Childcare Arrangements?

When considering arrangements for your child during a divorce, it is important that the child is always prioritised. If an agreement for the child can be achieved between the couple, then court proceedings do not have to be issued.

If an amicable agreement for the child is not achieved, you may have to apply for a Divorce Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) before you can make an application to the court.

A MIAM is a meeting for the divorcing parties, with a family mediator present. The mediator will assess the suitability for mediation, and what your options and next steps are.

When Should I Sort Out My Financial Arrangements?

Before the court can make a final order (previously known as a decree absolute), you’ll need to have a conditional order pronounced. The conditional order marks the halfway point in the no-fault divorce process and allows for a financial consent order to be put to the court for approval. The financial consent order can incorporate the terms of a financial settlement reached between the couple. Once the court approves the financial consent order, it becomes legally binding.

Will No-Fault Divorce Affect my Children and Financial Arrangements?

No-fault divorce does not impact any arrangements regarding your children or finances. By removing blame from the divorce process, the no-fault divorce may even provide a better process for productive conversation regarding childcare responsibilities and finances.

How AWH Solicitors Can Help?

How can our specialised no-fault divorce lawyers help you?

A divorce can be a difficult process to navigate through which is why we want to make the process easier and straightforward for you, with the help of our expert family law solicitors.

In most cases, court proceedings aren’t necessary as long if negotiations are handled with care and understanding. Our family law solicitors can help individuals during each step of the divorce process, whilst focussing on getting the best result for their client.

Our dedicated family law solicitors in Manchester and Blackburn have helped many clients through their divorce and separation proceedings, including financial settlement hearings and children disputes. We have a long history of finding compromises that work for everyone.

Contact us today for expert help and advice.

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